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
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.