Niceville, FL., August 19, 2008 — The Michael H. Minger Foundation is releasing the report “Fire Safety for Students with Disabilities at Institutions of Higher Education.” This report was prepared under a Department of Homeland Security Fire Prevention and Safety Grant awarded to the foundation in 2008.
This project focused on looking at current practices at schools across the nation and reviewing the current model building, fire and life safety codes to determine if they adequately addressed the fire safety issues for students with disabilities. The project was guided by an advisory committee of national experts and drew upon a number of resources in preparing this landmark study.
There are five specific areas that were identified as areas in which improvement or clarity is needed. These include:
· Students are not required to self-identify as needing assistance which places the school and fire department in the position where they may not be adequately prepared to safeguard the student.
· Absence of consistency and understanding among schools as to the special requirements that are necessary to educate and protect students with physical, sensory and cognitive disabilities and the legal requirements regarding housing these students.
· A fragmented approach is evident when it comes to providing for the fire safety needs of students in the campus environment.
· An absence of uniform, broadly distributed information that could provide campus officials and students with the resources they need to become better educated and informed.
· More information is needed in the model codes to address the needs of this demographic.
Five recommendations are being offered to help address the issues identified in the findings:
- Clarify the legal requirements and restrictions when dealing with emergency planning for students with disabilities
- Raise awareness among administrators
- Engage the student so they are more aware of their personal responsibilities
- Implement code changes recommended as part of this study
- Develop resources for the student and schools to use in education that can serve as models for developing procedures and policies
“I am so impressed with the amount of work that went into this important study,” said Gail Minger, president of the Michael H. Minger Foundation. “This document identified a number of significant issues when it comes to providing protection for students with disabilities and it is my hope that schools and communities will use it to help make their campuses safer for everyone.”
The Michael H. Minger Foundation was founded following the death of Michael Minger 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.
Copies of the report “Fire Safety for Students with Disabilities at Institutions of Higher Education” can be downloaded from www.campus-firewatch.com/minger.html.
The non-profit Michael H. Minger Foundation was established in 2005 to honor the life of Michael H. Minger, an outstanding young man, who lost his life in a college dormitory fire. 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.