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Minger Foundation Helps With Fire Safety at Cumberlands


Williamsburg, KY- University of the Cumberlands’ (UC) Mountain Outreach Director Marc Hensley has developed a strong relationship with the Michael H. Minger Foundation and its Founder, Gail Minger over the last few years. The Minger Foundation has teamed up with MO in hopes of bringing fire safety awareness to campus, educating RA’s on how to prevent fires and what to do if one occurs in the dorms. On June 26th and 27th, Minger demonstrated the proper way to install smoke detectors, discussed escape plans and educated them on overall fire safety.

“Unfortunately, most college students have not been through a fire safety course of any kind since Kindergarten,” said Minger. “Teaching fire safety to others and providing smoke detectors could possibly save lives.”


The Michael H. Minger Foundation was founded after the death of Michael Minger in an arson fire at Murray State University in Kentucky. Michael had a non-verbal learning disability, which is on the Autism spectrum. It was a contributing factor to his death. The Foundation’s mission is to raise the awareness and standards of campus fire safety for all students and also addresses fire safety issues specific to students with disabilities.

The Minger Foundation is led by Michael’s mother, Gail Minger, who has become a national advocate and is dedicated to the well-being of students on campuses across the nation. She was instrumental in the passage of the Michael H. Minger Act in Kentucky and has worked to advance fire safety awareness through education, legislation and research.

Minger came to UC and met with Hensley, the MO team, and Resident Hall Assistants (RA’s) from across the campus. She provided an intense PowerPoint presentation and a real-life video of a fire that demonstrated a situation where the victims had no escape plan. She and UC student and RA Hannah Spangler passed out informational guidelines for fire safety and explained what to look for when examining rooms or homes.

“It is human nature that when we go in one door of a building, that we exit the same way we came in,” explained Minger. “This is how many people fall victim to fires, which is what happened to my son Michael. Always know of more than one exit—wherever you go—for the rest of your life.”

Not only is the Minger Foundation and Mountain Outreach concerned about fire safety on campus but they are also getting fired up about safety in the community. MO students along with Minger and her assistant, Corey Lewis (Richmond Fire Department—EKU) went to Rick Fleenor’s home on June 27th to evaluate his home and check his smoke detectors. Fleenor, UC’s International Affairs and Relations Director, had a rude awakening; the two smoke alarms in his home were deactivated and he had been unaware. He was very thankful to have the team there to install new detectors, check them, and provide him with the proper fire safety education suitable for his family.

“The code is to have a smoke detector in each bedroom,” said Lewis. “Today, we have installed a detector in all three of Mr. Fleenor’s bedrooms, one in the hallway, and one in the kitchen.”

Since the tragic death of Minger’s son, she has had a dream—the dream is to construct a model dorm that will feature newer technology and safety equipment that will enhance the living conditions for all students, especially students with disabilities. The dorm is expected to have 34 rooms and an overall nice facility. This is a dream that University of the Cumberlands plans to help come true for Minger.

On UC’s campus, the new dormitory will be equipped to aid students with hearing and sight impairments, physical and mobility impairments, students with Asperger’s Syndrome and others that need additional assistance in case of an emergency. Minger hopes to name the dorm “Amadeus Building” because her son loved classical music and “Amadeus means ‘love of God’ which she found to be much suited for her son and for the university.

“Michael loved to help people and especially wanted to help others who had disabilities like himself,” said Minger. “He had such a kind heart and he would be so happy to see that I have founded this foundation in his honor and am helping people prevent the tragedy that he had to endure.”

Located in Williamsburg, Ky., University of the Cumberlands is an institution of regional distinction, which currently offers four undergraduate degrees more than 40 major fields of study; ten pre-professional programs; ten graduate degrees distributed over eight areas, including two doctorates and seven master’s degrees; certifications in education; and online programs. For more information, visit