Minger Foundation Awarded DHS Grant for Campus Fire Safety

06.29.2010 – The Michael H. Minger Foundation today announced it has been awarded a $175,956 grant by the Department of Homeland Security Fire Prevention and Safety Grant Program for two campus fire safety programs focused on getting valuable and potentially life saving information into the hands of students.

"We are thrilled to announce funding to support these initiatives to continue the downward trend of student-related fire tragedies across the country," said Michael H. Minger Foundation President Gail Minger. "The DHS grant will allow us not only to develop new information but will help us encourage students to take action to make their lives safer on and off their campuses."

One project supported by this funding includes the development of fire safety materials for the estimated 2 to 4 million college students nationwide that have learning, sensory and mobility disabilities. 

In a previous DHS grant, the Minger Foundation identified a significant gap in fire safety and safety protocols for students with disabilities and this grant project will focus on closing that gap. 

"My son, Michael, was a college student with a cognitive disability and it impacted his ability to survive," Minger said. "We need to make this information easily accessible and reach these students with information that can save their lives, while they are in college and for the years afterwards." 

Michael Minger was killed in an arson fire in a residence hall at Murray State University on September 18, 1998. Since that time, Mrs. Minger has become a tireless advocate for campus fire safety as a speaker on campuses, a media spokesperson and at conferences across the nation. She was instrumental in the passage of the Michael Minger Act in Kentucky and led a governor’s task force focusing on campus safety in Kentucky.

The funds will also support a campaign to engage students in fire safety by encouraging students to volunteer with their local fire departments and participate in community fire safety programs for the two weeks spanning 9/11. The campaign will coincide with National Campus Fire Safety Month in September. This effort will bring together students with fire departments and provide opportunities for the students to learn, first-hand, about the importance of fire safety in their lives and those at risk in their communities.

"We can provide the best materials possible but we need students to take action," Minger said. "We will develop material that today’s Internet generation will use . To accomplish both of these projects, teams of experts in campus fire safety and social media will be brought together."

The U.S. Dept of Education reports that there are 18 million students enrolled in colleges and universities across the country. According to information compiled by Campus Firewatch, since January 2000 approximately 140 people have been killed in campus-related fires with over 80% of them occurring in off-campus housing. Two-thirds of the students live in off-campus housing so this is a significant risk in many communities across the nation. 

By reaching out to these students with fire safety information, Minger said these projects can play a predominant role in not only saving their lives but changing their behavior and impacting the face of fire safety across the nation long after they graduate.

Working with the Michael H. Minger Foundation will be Ed Comeau, publisher of Campus Firewatch, the nation’s leading publication focusing on campus fire safety since 2000. 

Comeau is a former chief fire investigator for the National Fire Protection Association and has been involved in campus fire safety for 30 years. He is the author of the campus fire safety chapter in the NFPA Fire Protection Handbook, has written for many publications around the globe and has been closely involved in a number of campus fire safety projects.

The Michael H. Minger Foundation was established in 2005. The purpose of the Foundation is to improve fire safety standards and enhance fire safety systems on college and university campuses and to educate parents and students and raise awareness of the reality and risk of campus fires. This non-profit organization was founded to honor the life of Michael H. Minger, an outstanding young man, who lost his life in a college dormitory fire.