By Sierra Trujillo
Not many people have complained about the summer-like weather that Southern California has experienced throughout January. However, what most do not realize is the danger that such weather has put the Cal Poly Pomona campus in.
CPP is on red flag alert because of the high probability of a fire starting. This is because the area has received less than an inch of rain since the start of the school year.
Debbi McFall is the emergency service coordinator for CPP, and she is dedicated to keeping students, staff and faculty safe in the event of a fire.
“A fire replicates itself almost instantly, so you have to treat fire with a really healthy respect,” said McFall. “You can’t turn your back on it, because it’ll be twice as big when you turn around.”
McFall and many others around the campus, do their best to have as many preventative measures as possible so that there is less of a chance of a fire, including having groundskeepers keep brush cut back, and wetting dry areas around campus.
But, even with preventative measures in place, the chance of a spontaneous combustion is high because of the dry weather and land. Because of this, McFall has trained staff members across the campus on what to do if a fire were to start, whether in a building or near campus.
“There’s just too much at risk for us not to be talking,” said McFall.
Most prominently, McFall works with staff members who are in charge of residential life, training them to keep the students safe who live on the CPP campus.
Resident Life Coordinators, while in training over summer, go through fire safety training in which they learn how to use fire extinguishers for smaller fires, and evacuate residents in the case of a larger fire. They even have a session when they must go through an evacuation in a corridor that is filled with smoke.
Residents on campus, whether in the dorms, suites or Village, also go through training. They have fire drills at least twice throughout the year in order to prepare them for what to do in the event of a fire.
“I just really want to make sure students know how to get out and where to go and that the staff knows what they have to do,” said McFall.
However, the majority of students at CPP are commuters and do not go through this type of precautionary training. Students who do not live on-campus are usually uninformed on what to do if a fire were to start in a building that they are in. For this reason, McFall has trained staff members in each building on campus how to safely evacuate students and other staff members.
“There’s an emergency team in every building,” said McFall. “We have a system we call mini emergency operation centers. There’s a group of people in there who take responsibility and have been trained to perform an evacuation. We have safe evacuation locations for every single building.”
Sydney Ochoa, a fourth-year history student, commutes to campus and does not know how she would react if a fire started in a building she occupied.
“It makes me feel very safe knowing that there are other individuals that will handle a situation if I feel that I am not capable of doing so,” said Ochoa.
While McFall may have the best procedures in place as of now to keep everyone on campus safe, she is not sitting back and relaxing. Rather, she is researching new ways to prevent fires evacuate buildings quicker.
“Every time we think of something that will make us a little stronger, we jump into it,” said McFall.
Andi Rocco/The Poly Post
Protocol gives campus safety
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