An innovative set of integrated, multimedia, tools are available for resident assistants (RAs) to use in reaching out to the students in their residence halls. Developed by the Michael H. Minger Foundation, with the help of RAs and students, a series of posters, videos and Web pages all blend together to provide invaluable fire safety information to students. They are available for free download at the Foundation’s Web site.
“This idea came about when a parent was sitting in freshman orientation for his son and they were talking about how the RAs hold regular floor meetings to talk about important issues,” said Minger Foundation President Gail Minger. “When we looked into it, we had a difficult time finding resources that RAs could use for fire safety, so we set out to create them.
Over 80 percent of fatal campus-related fires happen in off-campus homes, most recently in Poughkeepsie, New York, where three people lost their lives in a tragic fire. In addition, fires in apartment buildings in Boston and Brookline injured students, some critically, as well as fires in Virginia, Michigan and New Hampshire that destroyed two fraternities and damaged a sorority, all within the past few weeks. “Teaching students about fire safety while they are living in the residence halls is an invaluable opportunity before they move out and live off-campus,” added Mrs. Minger. “These are, literally, lessons for life.”
There are a series of posters with fire safety messages focusing on on-campus, off-campus and Greek fire safety that RAs can download for free and print out to use on bulletin boards on their floors. Each poster has a QR code on it that, when scanned with a smartphone, will take the students to a web page with more information and short videos. Each of the videos features RAs from Eastern Kentucky University and students from Northeastern University talking about fire safety. To assist in developing this program, RAs were brought together in a Facebook group and provided ideas and suggestions.
To help the RAs talk about fire safety during floor meetings, an RA Guide to Teaching Fire Safety was also developed. This guide has two sections:
- This first part focuses on topics such as candles, cooking, smoke alarms, smoking and fire sprinklers with fire safety messages developed by the National Fire Protection Association along with additional explanatory material from the Minger Foundation.
- The second part is a compilation of the posters and reprints of the material on each of the landing pages where the QR codes take the students. This is designed to help the RAs become familiar with the information that the students will be seeing. Both sections contain links to more resources available from the United States Fire Administration and the National Fire Protection Association.
Since the Minger Foundation’s mission is fire safety programs for college students with a focus on students with disabilities, the Web site and videos have been developed with universal design in mind, such as closed-captioning. “By creating programs on fire safety for students with disabilities, we are creating fire safety programs for everyone,” said Mrs. Minger. Earlier, the Minger Foundation launched another series of videos focusing on fire safety for students with disabilities as well as a Guide to Teaching Fire Safety to Students with Disabilities which can also be found on the Foundation’s Web site.