Contact: Mark Welker, mark.welker@eku.edu, 859-622-2821

Gov. Steve Beshear, Eastern Kentucky University President Doug Whitlock and Minger Foundation founder Gail Minger are expected to launch the first phase of an innovative national community service project in Richmond on Monday, Sept. 26, to educate college students on fire safety through hands-on experience in their communities.

The project, entitled “Help Save a Life, Get on the Truck,” aims to get students to work with their local fire departments and school safety officials and, together, engage their communities with projects that will help improve fire safety.

“Eastern Kentucky University is proud to be part of this important project,” Whitlock said. “We are recognized around the world for the excellence of our programs in Justice and Safety, including those in fire science and safety and arson investigation. This fits very well with our mission, and we look forward to a great project.”

The Michael H. Minger Foundation National Community Service Project, now in its second year, coincides with National Campus Fire Safety Month. Dozens of events are already scheduled in Richmond and three additional cities across the country.

Gov. Beshear and President Whitlock will kick off the event at 11 a.m. outside the Keen Johnson Building, followed by a “live burn” demonstration. (The Keen Johnson Building is located on University Drive in the center of the Richmond campus — web.eku.edu/map.)

Projects already scheduled for this month include students working with firefighters to install smoke alarms in at-risk homes and assisting fire inspectors in ensuring that homes and apartments are fire safe.

The Florida-based Michael H. Minger Foundation (mingerfoundation.org) is leading the project. Gail Minger, who lost her son, Michael, in an arson fire in 1998 in a residence hall at Murray State University, said the project allows students not only to help others but also learn about fire safety themselves first hand.

“Our ultimate goal is to reach each and every student and give them the tools to protect themselves at school and to carry with them for the rest of their lives,” Minger said. “The more students we reach the safer our nation will be from the dangers of fire.”

Minger said EKU is an excellent choice to kick off the national project because of its strong commitment to fire safety. Eastern offers four distinct degree programs in the areas of fire and safety.

Mark Welker, executive director of public safety at EKU, said the project “is a positive mechanism for building partnerships between university, students and local fire departments to help better the community. In working with the local fire department, students have the opportunity to become fire and life safety educators and give back to the community. Students will also be able to take the learned fire prevention skills with them to help save lives and prevent injuries.”

The project is funded by a Department of Homeland Security Fire Prevention and Safety Grant.