Cincinnati Safe Student Housing Program

The Cincinnati Safe Student Housing program was created in memory of young people who’ve died in preventable fires.

Safe Student Housing Database

Ellen Garner


Around 3 a.m. New Year’s morning 2013, Ellen Garner responded to a text to visit a friend just off UC's campus. She would never return home again.

As her parents, we had made it a priority to keep her safe, but we lost to a situation we could never have predicted. Ellen chose to lay her head in a converted attic bedroom on the third floor of this house that had no alternate escape. In the early morning hours, a space heater caught fire on the second floor. The only way out was down a stairwell filled with toxic smoke. Ellen was up and trapped with no way out! The firemen found her body inside the bedroom door.

Do you think about fire safety even if you’re a guest? You probably wouldn’t unless you had been affected by such a tragedy.

Ellen was a talented fashion student. Live, Laugh, Love was her life motto. She had a passion for people and a love for Latin culture.

We miss "Our Ellen." Her bubbly smile and exuberant personality are gone, but, she is not forgotten. She was the light of our lives!

Chad Kohls

Our son, Chad, passed away due to complications received from smoke inhalation during an off campus house fire.

Chad KohlsHe was a senior marketing major at the University of Cincinnati and completed an internship with the Cincinnati Bengals. Chad had a zest for life, contagious laugh, and an unforgettable smile that brought joy to everyone he met.

Chad was a responsible student who lived on a college budget. He chose the house he lived in, because it met his financial requirements and allowed him to be with his friends. He was excited about having a third-floor bedroom because it had more of a studio feel to it and a great place where he and his buddies could play their guitars. With hard work, he was able to pay for his own room and board, of which we were grateful.

We now know that Chad could have called Fire Prevention at 513-357-7585 for a free inspection. Had he done this, and the necessary changes had been made, such as removing the air-conditioning unit and installing an Interior permanent fire escape ladder as well as photo-electric smoke detectors, it is a good possibility he would still be with us today.

Matthew Simpson

Matthew was born in Dayton, Ohio in October, 1986. He moved to Cincinnati as an infant and spent all of his school years in the Cincinnati suburb of Madeira.

Matthew SimpsonMatthew was a happy, loving and very energetic young boy, always eager to try something new, especially if it included spending time with friends.

He was involved in a variety of youth sports but focused on wrestling his junior high and early high school years. He loved music, both listening to his favorite groups as well as endlessly entertaining his friends with his bongo playing.

Matthew’s true passion was his art. He was a talented artist who loved expressing himself through his art. He spent time from a very young age creating, sketching and drawing. Friends and family thought this talent might ultimately lead to a career as an editorial cartoonist. It was no surprise when he chose to major in graphic design at Cincinnati State.

At the age of 20, Matthew was living with a few of his buddies, taking classes at Cincinnati State and working part-time. He was blessed with an amazing cross-section of friends, and as a young adult, friends and family alike commented on his compassion, loyalty and acceptance of others as well as fun-loving, free-spirited, and caring nature. His presence, especially his smile and hug, could light up a room.

On a Friday evening in April of 2007, Matthew gathered with a group of his friends at his off-campus rental house. At some point during the night, a fire smoldered on a sofa in the room adjacent to his third-floor bedroom. There were no smoke detectors located in his house on any of the floors. Matthew died from smoke inhalation after being rushed to a nearby hospital in the early hours of the morning.

A life so full of promise ended. Family and friends left heart-broken and forever missing that contagious smile and that warm person who touched the hearts of so many during his much too short life.

Andrea Dennis

Andrea was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. As a young child, Andrea was interested in everything; always asking questions, always wanting to learn.

Andrea DennisAs Andrea grew older, she was an avid reader but was equally outgoing and adventurous. Andrea loved music, fashion, sports and friends, but most of all, Andrea loved her family.

In high school Andrea excelled academically; she also played softball and tennis and was her school's homecoming queen her senior year.

Andrea's love of learning and talent for expressing herself pointed her towards journalism in college. She was accepted into one of the nation's top journalism schools the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University. In college she joined a sorority, met a boy named Justin and fell in love. Her life was perfect.

On April 13, 2003, Andrea's perfect life came to an end. Andrea went to a party with some friends in an off campus house. The plan was to for them to spend the night at the house and then get up the next morning and head home.

A late-night fire ended everything. Andrea was one of five that didn't escape the fire. Awake, Andrea could accomplish almost anything; asleep she was vulnerable.

The fire started at 4 a.m. on a couch on the porch. The house did not have any photoelectric smoke alarms, which might have detected the smoke in the house in enough time to provide a chance to escape. The house did have some ionization alarms, but these are known to have problems detecting smoke and often get disabled due to nuisance alarm problems. In this house, many of the alarms had been disabled.

Andrea died at the age of 20 from smoke inhalation. No one ever thinks they will die in a fire. Andrea didn't.