Tag Archives: fire safety

Same Scenario – Different Day

6 Apr

Have you ever noticed that when The Universe is trying to teach us something, if we don’t get it, the same lesson just keeps coming again and again until we do?

Never has that been more apparent to me than in the area of campus fire safety.  When Liz died from a fire in her duplex, I automatically assumed it was just this freak accident that shouldn’t have happened.

However, just this morning I received  notification of another fire fatality in off-campus housing at Eastern Michigan University


Contact: Ed Comeau, Publisher
Campus Firewatch
413-323-6002 (tel)
413-896-5718 (cell)
Student from Eastern Michigan University killed in off-campus fire in Ann Arbor, Michigan
BELCHERTOWN, Mass., April 6, 2010 — A student from Eastern Michigan University was killed in an off-campus fire in Ann Arbor, Michigan. 

According to the university, 22-year-old Renden LeMasters was killed in the fire.  LeMasters was a senior in the College of Technology.

In an interview with Campus Firewatch, Ann Arbor Fire Marshal Kathleen Chamberlain reported that the fire was reported at approximately 5:30 a.m. and started in the area of the front porch which contained upholstered furniture, trash and other combustibles.  The fire, which was detected by a passerby, then spread into the interior of the building through a front dormer window and two doors which were left open when the occupants escaped from the fire.  The victim was found in front of the building by the first arriving fire department personnel.  The cause of the fire is under investigation and has not been determined at this time.
The building is a two-story, wood-frame, building that had been divided into three units located in the basement, first floor and second floor.  There were interconnected smoke alarms in the building but no residential fire sprinklers.
According to Chamberlain, the Ann Arbor Fire Department had previously attempted to have an ordinance passed that would ban upholstered furniture from front porches but was unsuccessful.  Before this fire occurred, they were in the process of trying again because of the danger that these conditions present.  “These are incredible fire hazards,” said Chamberlain.
Nationwide, this is the fifth campus-related fire fatality to occur in the 2009-2010 academic year, all of which have occurred since January.  According to information compiled by Campus Firewatch, 140 people have died in campus-related fires since January 2000 with over 84% of them occurring in off-campus occupancies where a majority of the students across the nation live.
Campus Firewatch is a social enterprise focusing on campus fire safety. For more information, visit our website at www.campus-firewatch.com.

Campus Firewatch ● P.O. Box 1046, Belchertown, MA ● 01007 ● 1-413-323-6002 (tel)

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The similarities are stunningly familiar:

fire call comes in 5:30 am

fire starts on a porch in a couch

the building is a wooden two story

How sad that an ordinance outlawing couches on porches was not enacted – perhaps now it will – but does it really take another death of a college-aged student to make it happen?


A Story That is Meant to be Shared!

13 Mar

Those of you who know me well, know that my greatest passions are sharing my stories of extraordinary connections to my daughter Liz and fire safety prevention.

I came across a story today that combines them both.  It is a wonderful story and for all of you skeptics out there, I hope it will make you stop and think, scratch your head, and wonder … maybe there is more to life than what can be seen?


Promoting Fire Safety for Today’s College Students

28 Aug

Yesterday Anna and I had the opportunity to do a news story about Liz, the fire that took her life, and our lives since that day.

The main focus was to alert current students who are just moving into off-campus housing.

Getting them to realize and take seriously their own personal safety is a tough sell.

But all we can do is keeping repeating it at every opportunity.

Here is a link to our story:


Today is the day …

20 Sep

Wow … it’s September 20th … the last 24 hours have been a whirlwind but yesterday has to go down as one of the best days of my life.  My day was made by 7:30 am (if you don’t know what I’m talking about read my blog entry from yesterday).

I went to Van Cleve Park yesterday and did a story with Darcy Pohland of WCCO TV.  My two best girlfriends, Julie and Jeanne, came along and Julie drove.  It was an absolute beautiful day.  We got to the park with time to spare so I could walk them around and show them Liz’s house and show them the memorial tree.

Darcy arrived and we taped for about an hour.  It was like having a conversation with someone I’ve known for a very long time.  We went over to the house and decided to knock on the door to see if anyone was home.

A very nice young man answered the door and agreed to come out and talk to us.  Do you know what happened at this house 5 years ago Darcy asked him?  I have no idea was his response.  Tell him Kim, Darcy responded.  So I did.  He was very shocked … the landlords never told us that he said. 

We went on to talk about fire prevention methods.  We were very happy to hear that the landlords had installed a smoke detector in every room and they are hooked into the electrical system so they can’t be dismantled.

Another HUGE improvement was that the house is no longer a duplex … which means there are now two exits … the front exit and the back exit.  This is crucial because when Liz lived there, the only exit from the house was in front through the porch … which is where the fire started.

I was so happy to see this progress has been made.  If you want to watch the story the link is:


Well, I wonder if Liz has any other tricks up her sleeve to amaze me today — time will tell … expect the unexpected … and live in JOY!