Thursday, May 20, 2010

Fraternity Fire Prevention Bill Passes House

U.S. House passes bill aimed at preventing campus fires

By Sabrian Eaton

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The House of Representatives on Wednesday agreed to a longtime priority of the late Stephanie Tubbs Jones: a bill establishing grants for installation of fire prevention and suppression technologies for university student housing, including fraternities and sororities.

When Tubbs Jones died in 2008, her successor, Warrensville Heights Democratic Rep. Marcia Fudge, took up the cause and renamed the bill the "Honorable Stephanie Tubbs Jones College Fire Prevention Act."

It passed the House of Representatives on a voice vote.

The legislation doesn't specify the scope of grants that would be available. At least 10 percent of the money would be reserved for institutions that primarily serve minorities, and another 10 percent would be reserved for fraternities and sororities.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat, has introduced a companion bill in the U.S. Senate, which is before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. Brown said the bill honors Tubbs Jones' legacy by protecting Ohio students and preventing deaths.

Brown's office estimates there are between 1,500 and 1,800 fires each year in college residence halls, dormitories, and sorority or fraternity houses. In Ohio, there have been at least 13 deaths and 36 fire-related campus incidents since 2000. When fire suppression technology is present in student housing, the chance of surviving a fire increases by 97 percent and property damage is lowered by 35 percent, Brown's office says.

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