President's Office

From the President's Desk September 26 1995

September 26, 1995

Fire in Halsted Houses

Yesterday afternoon a mechanical/electrical malfunction in one of the trailers in Halsted House caused a fire that destroyed two trailers and severaly damaged two additional trailer units. Our hearts go out to the members of the History Department whose offices and possessions were damaged.

Very fortunately, no injuries were involved and police, fire and Physical Plant personnel responded promptly. Late this afternoon, with the assistance of PPM, the History Department Office and faculty were relocated to Sierra Hall. The University will do its best to replace lost property, where possible.

This incident reminds all of us, however, of the limitations of our temporary facilities and the necessity that we remain especially vigilant in our attention to safety in the trailers.

The University has continued various measures to assure safety in the trailer areas; additional security personnel have been mantained; a LAFD marshal has been assigned to the campus to provide advice and monitor code compliance; fire extinguishers were recently checked to assure that all are in working condition; information on emergency procedures is posted in each room; a Task Force On Emergency Preparedness, under Vice President Ron Kopita, was established this summer.

These activities will be augmented in the following ways; Our Pubic Safetly office will consult with the LAFD to inquire about ways improving the response time to emergency calls and to seek their recommendations about any additional fire safety measure we might take; I have asked Dr. Kopita's task force to accelerated its plans for training fire safety wardens, conducting emergency drills and providing training for faculty and staff in the use of fire extinguishers; PPM staff will perform an initial review of air conditioning and heating units in the trailers to identify any potential defects, and a contract to provide regular prventative maintenance on the trailer units will be finalized.

On Friday, September 29th at 1 p.m., members of our emergency preparedness team, including Chief Ed Harrison, Lt. Mark Hissong, Sgt. Steve Johnston, and a representative from Environmental Health and Safety, and an representative from the Fire Marshal's Office, will be available in the classroom/auditorium of the Business and Education Complex (BA&E 101) to answer questions any members of the University community may have about the Halsted fire and fire safety in general. We encourage interested faculty and staff to attend this informational meeting.

In the aftermath of the fire, we received several reports that the police and fire departments had not responded promptly enough and that defects in the mechanical unit had been reported reviously. We have verified, from the Public Safety tapes which routinely record all calls, that the fire depratment was on the scene 16 minutes after the call was received in the Public Safety office; Public Safety personnel responded within approximately 10 minutes. We have not been able to verify an earlier report of smoke or fire from the trailer in question.

Our goal, however, is to provide the shortest possible response time to calls reporting smoke or fire in th trailers. We will continue to investigate these reports, in consultation with the LAFD, and make any recommeded adjustments in our emergency call procedures and/or our arrangements with the Fire Department to achieve that goal.

I woud ask occupants of trailers and domes to observe fire precaution measures rigorously - eliminate electrical overloading; unplug space heaters when you are not using them; do not smoke within 30 feet of the trailers; know where fire extinguishers are lcoated; educate yourself about the emergency procedures in your building. Please call Physical Plant Maintenance if you see anything whihc might pose a fire hazard. We will advise you of any additional recommendations we received from th Fire Department.

The professionalism and caring of Physical Plant Management, LAFD, Public Safety, DMJM/JGM - and perhaps most of all the History Department personnel and Dean Ralph Vicero - were extraordinary. I know that I express the gratitude of all members of our community that a greater tragedy was avoided.

For my part, this incident has heightened my resolve to secure the necessary funding to repair and restoe our permanent facilities as rapidly as possible.


Remedial Education Proposal

At its July meeting, the Board of Trustees received proposed policy changes designed to ensure that students entering the California State University possess the basic skills needed to succeed in university study. The proposal recommends the elimination of all remedial education courses for students arriving directly from high school by 2001. The Board announces plans to consult broadly with representatives of K-12, community colleges, and parent and community groups before adoption of a new policy scheduled for consideration at the January 19966 Board of Trustees meeting.

As a part of this consultation, five regional hearings will be conducted by CSU Trustees and staff members. The hearings will provide an opportunity for interested individuals to ask questions and express their views. These hearings will be held during the months of September and October according to the following schedule:

  • San Diego - Thursday, September 21, 1995 - Holiday Inn on the Bay
  • Los Angeles - Friday, September 29, 1995 - Los Angeles Convention Center
  • San Francisco - Tuesday, October 24, 1995 - Hayward Centennial Hall
  • Sacramento - Friday, October 27, 1995 - Hilton Hotel
  • Fresno - Friday, November 3, 1995 - Holiday Inn (Downtown)

In addition, staff from the Chancellor's Office will meet at nearby CSU campuses on the afternoon before each regional hearing to brief faculty, administrators, and staff on the proposed policy and lad a discussion.

Under the direction of Provost Kennedy, information about the hearings was shared with the Senate Executive Committee, the Faculty Senate, the Dean's Council and the Associated Students. A group of CSUN faculty will be present at the Los Angeles hearing and will report back to the campus community.

This issue will affect how we assure access to the California State University system in the future. We will provide information as it becomes available.


Blenda J. Wilson
September 26, 1995