Monday, July 25, 2011

New Jersey Legislators Introduce Bill Aimed at Providing Fire Safety Education and Training to College Students

Press Release courtesy of the office of rep. Bill Pascrell and

WASHINGTON – After collaborating to get legislation passed that requires disclosure of fire safety records of college student housing, U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-8) and U.S. Sen. Frank L. Lautenberg (D-NJ) today introduced a bill that would provide college students with fire safety education and training. Both legislative efforts were inspired by the tragic fire at a Seton Hall University dormitory more than 10 years ago.

Firefighters respond to a blaze at a Seton Hall University dorm – South Orange, NJ – Jan 19, 2000 (credit: AP Photo/Jeff Zelevansky)

“We know that sprinkler systems and fire alarm systems save lives when a fire breaks out and are necessary. However, preventing a fire from happening is the most effective tool of all. Education is the key. Even the brightest students can make a costly mistake in their dorms or off-campus housing that can result in a fire,” said Congressman Pascrell, a member of the House Ways and Means and Budget Committees. “With this legislation were providing resources to colleges and universities to help make sure students have the knowledge and training that can save their lives.”

“Increasing fire safety awareness on our college campuses will help to save lives and allow students to focus on their education,” Senator Lautenberg said. “We made great strides with enactment of the Campus Fire Safety Right-to-Know law, which gives students and families information about the fire safety records of colleges and universities. Now it's time to ensure that schools have the resources to educate the campus community about fire safety and prevent tragedies.”

"Fire has a huge impact on our society and our economy. Each year, over 3,000 people are killed and more than $12 billion in damage is caused by fires,” said Ed Comeau, publisher of Campus Firewatch. “By educating students about how to prevent one from breaking out in the first place we can build a fire-safe generation that will save lives, now and for the future."

The Campus Fire Safety Education Act of 2011, which creates a new competitive Campus Fire Safety Education Grant Program at institutions of higher education, will increase fire safety awareness among college students, help improve their fire training, and save lives.

"Even the brightest students can make a costly mistake in their dorms or off-campus housing that can result in a fire,” said Congressman Pascrell.

Funding may be used to initiate, expand, or improve a fire safety education program on their campus. Schools can apply on their own or in collaboration with a nonprofit fire safety organization or public safety department, and may include a fraternity and sorority. Since a high proportion of student fires occur off-campus, schools will be encouraged to use these funds to educate students living both on- and off-campus.

It is endorsed by a number of fire safety and campus organizations, including Campus Firewatch, the International Code Council, the International Fire Marshals Association, the National Association of State Fire Marshals, the National Fire Protection Association, the National Fire Sprinkler Association, the Association of College and University Housing Officers International, the Congressional Fire Services Institute, the International Association of Black Professional Fire Fighters, and the International Association of Fire Chiefs.

In 2008, the Higher Education Opportunity Act became law with provisions from the Campus Fire Safety Right-to-Know Act introduced by Rep. Pascrell and Sen. Lautenberg. The provisions aim to address concerns relating to fires in college dormitories and off-campus student housing by requiring schools to report fire safety statistics to the Department of Education and making this information publicly available to students and parents.

Congressman Pascrell introduced the Campus Fire Safety Right-to-Know Act in the 106th Congress following Seton Hall University’s tragic fire on January 19, 2000, which killed 3 students and injured over 50 others.

On July 24, 2007, Senator Lautenberg led the U.S. Senate in passing the Campus Fire Safety Right-to-Know Act of 2007 as part of the Higher Education Act.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Lessons from Paris Apartment Fire in August 2005

When a fire broke out in a Paris apartment building in late August, 2005, it made international news because of the large number of children who were killed or injured, and because of the large number of immigrants who were living in the apartment house. The building was described as "dilapidated" by some, and there were reports of rats, mice and other pests living in the building, as well. Overcrowding and poor maintenance is being blamed for the high casualty rate at the building, as well.


The issues in this article are many and broad: proper inspections, required maintenance and adequate preventive measures are key issues. However, this article also points out the impact that social policy can have on emergency services. This apartment house was home to families who lived in overcrowded conditions, with some citing 12 individuals living in three rooms. The wiring was said to be faulty by some residents, and the structure itself was of questionable integrity.
Less overcrowding would have lessened the number of dead, but emergency workers are also of the opinion that most of the dead died from asphyxiation in their sleep, not from burns. Better safety equipment might have awoken these individuals, but without adequate escape routes and fire safety measures, it is not clear if additional lives would have actually been saved.
At the heart of this tragedy is the issue of how to provide adequate and safe housing for the poor. Although this fire took place in France, the issue is one that confounds municipalities in the United States, as well. According to the article, Paris provides "social" (subsidized) housing for approximately 12,000 families, but more than 100,000 families�primarily immigrants�are in need of such housing. In these situations, it is not surprising that overcrowding results as multiple families end up living together out of necessity.
The same is true in the United States, where multiple families will live in small apartments or even homes resulting in overcrowding. This results in unsanitary conditions as well as dangerous fire conditions. Landlords are often unmotivated to provide more than just enough fire safety equipment to meet local codes, and in many cases, landlords are willing to risks fines and do not even provide the most basic equipment.
EMS personnel cannot bring about social change, but they can be aware of those neighborhoods and structures that are subject to overcrowding and which may not meet local codes. In addition, inspections can be stepped up to ensure that buildings are brought up to code, or that violations are expensive to landlords so that it becomes more economical to provide a safe living environment than not. Finally, EMS personnel can engage in community outreach programs and educational programs to provide information about how to survive fire and other disasters to mitigate casualties.


Fickling, D. (2005, August 26). Paris apartment fire kills 17. Guardian Unlimited. Retrieved 27 Aug 2005 from: .

Monday, July 18, 2011

Fund Raising Event in Washington, D.C.

Is this karma? Is this Jasmine’s spirit? Or is it the real goodness of the friends and families that we have come across, that each and every one of our fund raising events had turned out to be nicer and more successful than the other one. On Saturday afternoon, when we were involved in a fund raising for the forest rangers, our newlywed cousins in Washington DC, Sahar and Skyler, gathered the family members in their cozy apartment and collected a big sum of $1800.00 for the Jasmine Fire Safety Foundation. The few pictures attached are more descriptive than thousand words. We love you cousins. How can we ever return your kindness? We have now collected sufficient fund to launch Jasmine Fire Safety Kits to many deserving young adults and students and fulfill our dream by providing them necessary Fire Safety Equipment and training to protect themselves. Each and every one of you, in each corner of the world, who have trusted us with this mission, should be proud of yourself for your accomplishments.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Jasmine's Birthday Fundraiser

On Saturday July 16th, despite the typical hot and humid weather in South Florida, many friends and families joined us in PGA Park for a fund raising event to benefit families of Josh Burch and Brett Fulton, the two forest rangers who lost their lives to
a forest fire in Florida in June 2011. Once again, our friends and families came to us with open arms and heavy hearts and because of their generosity, we collected $1640.00 and our foundation will add another $500.00 to the collection and deposit to “SunState Frederal Credit Union” in name of the survivors of the families. On Saturday, there was plenty of food and drink to go around and surrounded by a group of loving and compassionate friends and families, it was truly a birthday that Jasmine would have approved of. Thank you for everyone’s participation and donations.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Palm Beach County firefighters install innovative smoke alarms for the deaf

July 07, 2011 6:14 PM

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. -- Smoke alarms save lives, but those who are deaf or hard of hearing cannot depend on the sound of a regular smoke detector to alert them to a fire.

That is why Palm Beach County fire rescue will soon be installing special smoke alarms for hundreds of people. This week the department was awarded a $949,000 grant by the Department of Homeland Security to provide about 15,000 special smoke detectors to people who are deaf.

The Lifetone alarms not only wake people with hearing loss, they also shake the bed while they are sleeping.

"It will interpret the sound of smoke alarm plus it will flash fire so they know there's a fire in the house and that will help them get out quickly," said Gerri Penney, Palm Beach County Fire Rescue.

The grant also provides money for a sleep study to find out what wakes someone who is deaf or hard of hearing.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Petition to Support Campus Firewatch's Movement

Campus Firewatch sponsored Campus Fire Safety Capitol Hill Day 2011

Since 2005, Campus Firewatch has requested that governors across the U.S. proclaim September as Campus Fire Safety Month in order to encourage universities to teach their students about fire safety. Here is a link to the letter they sent to the governors this year and a link to their page about this movement.

Today I created a petition in support of this movement that I'll send to the governor of California in order to urge him to participate. You can sign it here. This constitutes another step in our ongoing effort to get people thinking about fire safety. If we can inspire university officials to make fire safety a part of the curriculum at freshmen orientations as well as study abroad orientations, we can help young adults learn to protect themselves. The basics of fire safety are easy to learn; our task is to remind people that they need to do it.

Check the map to see if your state has proclaimed September as Campus Fire Safety Month. If not, you can start the campaign at!

Please share this cause with your friends and include the following message:

On April 14, 2011, Jasmine Jahanshahi lost her life in an apartment fire while studying abroad; at least 6 college students affiliated with American universities have perished in fires this academic year. Join JUSTICE and Campus Firewatch in requesting that governors across the U.S. proclaim September as Campus Fire Safety Month in his or her home state in order to "raise awareness and encourage schools to provide fire prevention and safety education". If we can inspire university officials to make fire safety a part of the curriculum at freshmen orientations and at study abroad orientations, we can help young adults learn to protect themselves. Please visit for fire safety tips and for more information about JUSTICE, the foundation we have established in Jasmine's memory.

So I signed a petition to United States Governors, which says:

"Formally proclaim September as Campus Fire Safety Month in your home state."

Will you sign the petition too? Click here to add your name:


Sunday, July 3, 2011

Thank you Dear Shahram And Faranak

Our dear cousins Shahram and Faranak Asefnia posted a link to JUSTICE to their Facebook page, Art & Architecture on June 27. The link received almost 120,000 hits in one week! Thank you dear Shahram and Faranak for promoting our cause and spreading fire safety awareness in the world.