Topeka Two members of the Kansas Board of Regents have requested information on how state universities advise students about fire safety in off-campus housing.
The request was made following the deaths last month of two Emporia State University students in an apartment fire in Emporia.
The issue came up during a meeting this week of the regents’ fiscal affairs and audit committee.
“A tragedy like this; maybe we can all learn from it,” Regent Dan Lykins of Topeka said of the Emporia fire.
Regent Christine Downey-Schmidt of Inman said she would like to know what universities do to inform students, especially those from other countries, about fire safety issues when they live off campus. “Is it just buyer beware?” she asked.
The board members asked the regents’ staff to check with the universities on their procedures for both on-campus and off-campus living.
The Emporia fire was caused by combustibles left too close to a floor furnace in the apartment, according to the Emporia Fire Department.
Killed in the blaze were Yawei Fan, 23, and Zheng Lin, 22, who attended ESU through an exchange program with Liaoning Normal University in Dalian, China.
Fan was a sophomore studying chemistry and Lin was working toward a master’s degree in English.
As a memorial project, students in the ESU physics and chemistry clubs plan to train student volunteers on how to inspect housing for fire safety and to raise funds to purchase smoke detectors for ESU students living off-campus.
At Kansas University, Legal Services for Students gives presentations and information to students on issues, such as landlord-tenant relations, how to read a lease and fire and housing codes, according to Jill Jess, director of the KU News Service.
In Lawrence, the law generally is that rental units, at a minimum, must have smoke detectors and fire extinguishers, according to Jim King, chief of the prevention division of the Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical.