Stephenson Wollesen

Gail Minger wishes she had asked more questions about fire safety at her son's college before she sent him off to school. In 1998, Michael Minger, a sophomore, died in a residence hall fire at Murray State University in Kentucky. 'When we visited the college, we just thought the residence hall was safe, just similar to parents do,' she said. 'We assumed it'd sprinklers. After the fire, we discovered that the residence hall were written up by the fire marshal's office two years in a line for not having sprinklers, along with for other safety rule violations.' Since January 2,000, 7-5 people have died in fires in student housing, in line with the Center for Campus Fire Safety, a nonprofit organization that works to improve fire protection o-n university campuses. Parents may not understand that many residence halls don't have automatic sprinklers. 'Everyone remembers to ask about Internet capabilities and crime statistics at universities, but too often we forget about fire safety,' said Ed Comeau, manager for the Center for Campus Fire Safety. 'The facts are that a person who moves is safer than students living in residence halls because many hotels across the nation have automated fire sprinkler systems and state-of-the-art fire alarm systems. Should people need to get additional information on, we know of heaps of online resources people should investigate. Students should have exactly the same level of safety.' 'Student living means rooms filled with books, paper, bedding, curtains, and clothes - and a great deal of possible fire hazards in a very small area,' said John Drengenberg, director of consumer affairs at Underwriters Laboratories, a nonprofit organization that tests services and products for protection. 'In this situation, even the littlest spark can be deadly.' Schools aren't needed to make university fire-safety information open to the public, Comeau said. He suggests that parents ask the next questions throughout college tours: * How many fires have occurred on campus previously five-years and how many students have been wounded or killed? * Are house places equipped with an automatic fire sprinkler system in each room? * Does every student's area have a smoke alarm that sends a signal to campus security or even the fire department? * Does the college investigate the alarms before notifying the fire department? This can delay the arrival of the fire departm