Millikin University celebrates Illinois Campus Fire Safety Month with annual Nick Project event

The Nick Project provides fire alarms, extinguishers and ladders to off-campus students.

The Nick Project

DECATUR, Ill. – In a celebration of Illinois Campus Fire Safety Month, Millikin University held its annual Nick Project event on Wednesday, Sept. 13. Before that event, which provides fire safety equipment to Millikin’s students living off-campus, the University held a press event between the Illinois Office of the State Fire Marshal, Millikin University and the Illinois Fire Safety Alliance.

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker also signed a proclamation naming September as Campus Fire Safety Month. 

Campus Fire Safety Proclamation

Speakers at the press event included Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal, Bureau of Operations Chief Operating Officer Dale Simpson, Founder of the Nick Project Sophia Schwalbach, Illinois Fire Safety Alliance Executive Director Philip Zaleski and Millikin University President Jim Reynolds. 

“Fire safety is a top priority for the students at Millikin, whether they live on or off campus. Each year, Sophia Schwalbach and Millikin’s Office of Student Affairs provides the tools for students to reduce the danger of a fire emergency and make the campus safer,” Millikin President Jim Reynolds said. “I would also like to thank Illinois Governor JB Pritzker and Illinois State Fire Marshal James A. Rivera for their continued leadership in keeping the students of Illinois’ colleges and universities prepared for a fire emergency through Campus Fire Safety Month.”

Illinois Campus Fire Safety Month aims to create educational opportunities for students to learn the importance of fire safety, ultimately leading to the reduced risk of fires and or death related to on and off-campus fires. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), September and October are the peak months for fires in dormitory properties, with cooking being the leading cause. Ninety-four percent of fatal campus fires occurred in off-campus housing, with seven fatalities in Illinois since 2000. 

The Nick Project

Fire safety takes center stage at Millikin during the annual Nick Project events on campus, which provide fire safety equipment to Millikin’s fraternities, sororities and off-campus students. The Nick Project was started by Millikin alum Sophia Schwalbach ’19 in the fall of 2015. Sophia was only four years old when her brother, Nick Schwalbach, lost his life in a fraternity house fire on Millikin's campus in June 2000, and she has dedicated her life to preventing another tragedy.

“When I started this project in 2015, I had no idea what it could do. Standing here so many years after I have graduated and seeing that Millikin takes this so seriously means more to me than you will ever know,” Sophia said. “The Nick Project will continue to live on, and I would like to thank the Illinois Fire Safety Alliance for their generous donation. I look forward to many more years to come.”