09.09.2010 – For Immediate Release:
September 9, 2010

Chapel Hill, NC – Governor Bev Perdue helped launched the first phase of national community service project in Chapel Hill Thursday to educate college students on fire safety through hands-on experience in their communities.

The project, called “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 community with projects that will help improve fire safety.

“We must all work together to stop the tragic loss of life,” Perdue said outside of the Phi Gamma Delta Fraternity, where five students were killed in the 1996 Mother’s Day fire. “Education and awareness will prevent fires and save lives.”

The community service project, which coincides with National Campus Fire Safety Month, will run through the end of September and span 9/11 which President Obama has designated as a National Day of Service. Dozens of events are already scheduled in five cities across North Carolina.

Projects already scheduled for this month include students working with firefighters to install smoke alarms in at-risk homes, assisting fire inspectors in ensuring home and apartments are fire safe, putting on fire safety performances for children’s centers, among others.

The Florida-based Michael H. Minger Foundation is leading the project and plans to take it nationwide early next year.

Gail Minger, president of the Minger Foundation, lost her son, Michael, in an arson fire in 1998 in a residence hall at Murray State University in Kentucky, said by doing these projects, students 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.”

Bonnie Woodruff, who lost her son Ben in the 1996 Phi Gamma Delta fire, said she learned about fire safety only when it was too late.

“You don’t want your mother ever to be up here, saying the things I have to say,” Woodruff said. “Students are at a time when they think they are invincible. You are not and you have to realize that.”

Chapel Hill Fire Chief Dan Jones and Kinsey Pilkington, who lost his brother in a fire at North Carolina State University, students, university officials and fire safety advocates joined Perdue at the press conference.

Participants in the project include the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill; the Chapel Hill Fire Department; the University of North Carolina at Greensboro; the Greensboro Fire Department; Wake Forest University; the Winston-Salem Fire Department; the University of North Carolina at Charlotte; the Charlotte Fire Department; and the Raleigh Fire Department.

In addition to the Minger Foundation project, the North Carolina Office of State Fire Marshal is promoting campus fire safety statewide through a series of federally funded workshops.

The project is funded by a Department of Homeland Security Fire Prevention and Safety Grant and supported by generous contributions from First Alert, Domino’s and System Sensor.

In the news…