Lessons from Tragedy: Fire Safety Video

A campus housing fire safety video honoring 2012 SIUE fatal fire victims has been viewed by more than 31,600 students nationwide.

Five years after an off-campus apartment fire killed Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) students Lauren Petersen and Lacy Siddall, a first-of-its-kind fire safety video that was created last April to honor the students and help prevent similar tragedies has been viewed by more than 31,600 students on college campuses nationwide.

Simmons Hanly Conroy, which represented the Petersen family in a lawsuit against an insurance company, and attorney Tom Long, who represented the Siddall family, helped produce and fund the video. The Petersen and Siddall families also used a portion of their settlements with the insurance company to help fund the project.

“The deaths of Lauren and Lacy were tragedies, and this video has in a way provided a form of healing by hopefully warning other college students, their parents and landlords about the risks of fire in both on- and off-campus housing,” says Ted N. Gianaris, the Simmons Hanly Conroy shareholder who oversaw the wrongful death lawsuit.

From 2000 to 2014, approximately 126 students have perished from fires that occurred on a college campus, in Greek housing or in off-campus housing within three miles of campus, according to the Center for Campus Fire Safety (The Center), a nonprofit organization devoted to reducing the loss of life from fire at college campuses. More than 85 percent of the fatal fires during that time occurred in off-campus housing.

The video underscores the dangers of campus fires through state-of-the-art, slow-motion footage that illustrates how quickly a fire can spread. The video also includes footage from the aftermath of the fire that claimed the girls’ lives.

The girls’ families, their attorneys and Simmons Hanly Conroy partnered with SIUE University Housing, Residence Life Cinema and Switch to produce the video, which was distributed to more than 200 universities and colleges nationwide via Residence Life Cinema, a division of Swank Motion Pictures.

The video is available to nationwide through Residence Life Cinema’s educational programming library; colleges and affiliated organizations such as fraternities and sororities interested in using the video as part of their programming for students can e-mail info@reslife.com for information, or the video can be viewed online at www.simmonsfirm.com/fire-safety-video.

This article originally appeared in the July/August 2017 issue of College Planning & Management.

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