Hometown: Leawood, Kansas

Donna Henson and son Dominic PassantinoMy Story

“In the early morning hours of May 8, 1999, I received a phone call telling me that my youngest son, Dominic Passantino, had been killed in a fraternity house fire at the University of Missouri. At that moment, my life and the lives of those who knew and loved Dominic changed forever. How could a young man who was so full of life have his life cut so short? I never dreamed that the room I envisioned as a safe haven would contribute to my son’s tragic death. There was not a working fire extinguisher on his floor, no batteries in the smoke alarm, and no fire sprinkler system; there were no safety devices in place that could have helped save my son’s life. Had a fire sprinkler system been present, the candle that ignited the bedding in Dom’s room would have been controlled or extinguished. Ironically, most fire deaths occur in the very place we feel safest – our homes.

Since that tragic day, I have worked with the city of Columbia and the University of Missouri to distribute a public service announcement video, “Dominic’s Story,” to hundreds of colleges across the country, educating both parents and students on fire safety, specifically in college living quarters. I continue to press legislatures, city councils, educators and fire service professionals nationwide to enact new laws that require fire sprinklers not only in college housing, but also in all new single and multifamily residences. With changes to fire and building codes requiring fire sprinklers, along with fire prevention education we can work toward creating a fire-safe environment for everyone.”


Advocacy Portfolio

  • Supports the Dominic L. Passantino Foundation, whose mission is to increase awareness and foster educational efforts in order to prevent fire-related injuries and deaths of children.   The foundation hosts The DOM Golf Tournament annually, having raised over $300,000 for the Burn and Trauma Unit at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, and other charities
  • Produced a college fire safety PSA, “Dominic’s Story,” with Columbia (Missouri) Fire Department
  • Successfully lobbied city of Columbia (Missouri) to pass an ordinance to protect all Greek housing at University of Missouri with fire sprinklers by March 2016
  • Lobbied U.S. Congress during multiple attempts to pass Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act
  • Lobbied Jefferson City (Missouri) city council to adopt building codes that require fire sprinklers in new multifamily residences

In the News

  • “Mother Who Lost Her Son in Residential Fire Makes Passionate Plea For Fire Sprinkler Requirements,” NFPA Fire Sprinkler Initiative blog, March 29, 2017.
  • Jefferson City Council Pressed on Fire Sprinklers,” News Tribune, March 21, 2017.
  • KC Family Promotes Safety, Education After Tragic Fire,” KMBC-TV, May 7, 2016.
  • “Advocacy Group Demonstrates Live Burn to Promote Fire Safety,” KOMU-TV, March 20, 2014.
  • “2 Fatal Blazes Renew Focus on Fraternities’ Lack of Sprinklers,” New York Times, December 8, 2006.