Hometown: Clemson, South Carolina

My Story

Gail Minger“My son, Michael, was only a sophomore in college when he was killed in an arson fire in his residence hall at Murray State University in Kentucky. Someone had poured gasoline in the hallway and lit a fire. The antiquated fire alarm was not what woke him from his sleep, but rather the screams of other residents. Due to a non-verbal learning disability on the Autism spectrum, Michael did not fully understand the directions that were being yelled to him by other residents. He was unable to escape and died in the doorway of his room. Fourteen others were injured in the fire. There was an earlier arson fire in Michael’s hall but it had not been reported to the residents and their parents, so they did not know to be on the lookout.

After Michael’s death, I chose to honor his legacy by looking out for the well being of students on college campuses nationwide, founding the Michael H. Minger Foundation. The goal of the Foundation has been to raise awareness and standards for campus fire safety, along with addressing fire safety needs for students with disabilities. Due to my work with the Foundation, I was invited to join Common Voices as a means to have a collected voice to combat fire and the threat of fire in our nation and on our college campuses. In order to prevent future fire deaths, we must educate and focus on ways to change our culture and the general public’s attitude about fire. The dangers and devastation of fire are very real, but they can be prevented.”


Advocacy Portfolio

  • President of the Michael H. Minger Foundation, which works with colleges and universities to raise awareness about campus fire safety and fire safety for students with disabilities
  • Helped enact the Michael H. Minger Act in Kentucky, which requires public colleges and universities as well as private institutions licensed by the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education to report campus crimes to employees, students and the public on a timely basis
  • Assisted with the production of “9 Fires,” a documentary that explains the impact of nine campus-related fires that happened within three weeks in 2012
  • Lobbied U.S. Congress during multiple attempts to pass Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act

In the News

  • “Minger Foundation Helps with Fire Safety at Cumberlands,” University of the Cumberlands news release, June 29, 2014.
  • “Michael H. Minger Foundation Gets DHS Grant to Conduct Campus Fire Safety Community Service Projects in Five States,” Fire Engineering, June 3, 2013.
  • “Mother of Fire Victim Promotes Campus Safety,” WKYT-TV, September 26, 2011.
  • Report on Fire Safety for Students with Disabilities Released by the Michael H. Minger Foundation,” Firehouse, August 19, 2009.