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LEADING COMMUNITY RISK REDUCTION - page 6 / 75

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BACKGROUND AND SIGNIFICANCE

On January 19, 2000, a devastating fire occurred in Boland Residence Hall at

Seton Hall University. This tragedy resulted in the deaths of three college freshmen and

injuries to 58 additional students (Naylis, 2000). Sadly, the incident at Seton Hall is not

an isolated event in the history of American colleges. In fact, some of America’s most

prestigious universities have experienced deadly fires that have affected their

communities for years. Even more troubling is the fact that more than 1,600 fires

occurred in dormitories annually from 1988 to 1997. On average, this resulted in 66

civilian injuries and 8.9 million dollars in property damage (Moore, 2000). Tragedies

such as the one experienced at Seton should be a wake up call to all executive level chief

officers whose departments are tasked with fire protection for universities that provide

on-campus housing.

California State University, Fresno (CSUF) is a 327-acre campus located at the

northeast edge of Fresno, California, at the foot of the Sierra Nevada range. The

surrounding San Joaquin Valley is one of the richest agricultural areas in the world.

Fresno County is the sixth largest metropolitan area in California. Nicknamed “Fresno

State,” CSUF is one of the 23 campuses of the California State University, one of the

largest systems of higher education in the world. Founded as Fresno State Normal

School in 1911, CSUF became a teacher's college in 1921, and has offered advanced

degrees since 1949 (CSUF, 2003).

The University provides on-campus housing for approximately 1,070 students.

There are nine residence halls including three community style dormitories and six

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