Contact: Ed Comeau, Campus Firewatch
413-896-5718 (cell and text)

@campusfirewatch

National organizations are working together to develop a local program involving students in fire safety outreach after the fire that claimed the lives of two international students at Emporia State University

NICEVILLE, Fla. November 18, 2011 – Two international students attending Emporia State University from the Liaoning province in China were killed in an off-campus fire in Emporia, Kansas, on October 25, 2011. According to the Emporia Fire Department, the cause of the fire was combustibles placed too close to a floor furnace. Since January 2000, over 85% of campus-related fire fatalities have occurred in off-campus housing, according to Campus Firewatch.

This tragedy is bringing together several national organizations to help address the problem of off-campus fires and, in this case, those involving international students. The Michael H. Minger Foundation has launched several successful Campus Fire Safety Community Service Projects with students and schools in North Carolina and, most recently, at Eastern Kentucky University, and is bringing its experience in these efforts to Emporia. Prevention Officer Corey Lewis from the Richmond (Kentucky) Fire Department was closely involved in the EKU launch, and the Minger Foundation has arranged for him to travel to Emporia and meet with the Emporia Fire Department, officials from Emporia State University, and campus and fire officials from other Kansas college and university communities on Monday, November 21, to explain the program and help launch a similar effort in Emporia.

The Campus Fire Safety Community Service Project is a program where students go out into the community alongside fire fighters to conduct smoke alarm installations and fire safety education in high-risk homes with two goals. The first is to raise the level of fire safety in the homes by making sure they are equipped with working smoke alarms and providing the occupants with fire safety information. The second goal is to teach the students about fire safety by having them actively take part in delivering it to the community through this service program, creating a win-win situation for everyone.

Joining with the Minger Foundation in supporting this effort is the Jasmine Jahanshahi Fire Safety Foundation which is donating 50 First Alert smoke alarms. This foundation was formed after the death of Jasmine who, while on an international study program in Paris, France, died in an apartment fire along with four others. The Jasmine Jahanshahi Fire Safety Foundation works to raise the awareness of the importance of fire safety for students involved in international study programs.

Campus Firewatch, which has been closely involved in the development of the Campus Fire Safety Community Service Project since its inception, is providing coordination and technical assistance for this effort.

“By directly involving the students in delivering fire safety to the community and their peers, everyone benefits,” said Michael H. Minger Foundation President Gail Minger. “The students learn, first-hand, about fire safety and the residents get safer homes. I am looking forward to working with Emporia Fire Department and the university community and helping in any way we can.”

The Campus Fire Safety Community Service Project was originally funded by a grant from the Department of Homeland Security Fire Prevention and Safety Grant program to the Michael H. Minger Foundation. The goal is for these programs in North Carolina, Kentucky and Kansas to serve as examples for other communities across the nation on how to improve fire safety for everyone by involving students in delivering community service projects.

The Michael H. Minger Foundation was formed after the death of Michael in a residence hall fire. It focuses on fire safety on our nation’s campuses with an emphasis on fire safety for students with disabilities. For more information go to www.mingerfoundation.org or www.facebook.com/mingerfoundation.

The Jasmine Jahanshahi Fire Safety Foundation was founded following the death of Jasmine in a Paris, France, apartment fire while studying abroad. The foundation focuses on fire safety for international students. For more information go to www.firesafetyfoundation.org, www.facebook.com/FireSafetyFoundation and @JUSTICEcorps

Campus Firewatch is a social enterprise and newsletter that, since 2000, has worked to raise the awareness of campus fire safety across the nation. More information can be found at www.campus-firewatch.com, www.facebook.com/campusfirewatch and @campusfirewatch.