Students uninformed about campus evacuation plans


Fire burns near road signage near Uncle Tom’s Cabin in El Dorado County, Calif., on Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014. The King fire has burned more than 70,000 acres. (Randall Benton/Sacramento Bee/MCT)

Randall Benton- McClatchy Tribun

On Sept. 11, the smell of smoke and fire penetrated the air behind the University Union. All that could be made out amongst the cloudy light grey sky were tiny lights of three fire trucks racing to quickly extinguish a fire at the levee.

This was not the first incident this semester. Four fire alarms have gone off in both the Union and the American River Courtyard. Two were minutes apart from each other with the second fire less than half a mile away.

Amidst the mixture of a populated campus, 3,000 trees and golden grass, Sacramento State Police Department has created a set of documents for a Building Emergency Preparedness Program. The program is intended to protect campus from fires and other emergencies, but has failed to keep students informed.

The campus-wide program organizes safety teams in each building under the direction of a building coordinator. The team consists of faculty, staff and managers who are assigned to aid all building occupants and first responders during an emergency. This aiding includes evacuating students and directing them to safety zones.

“Evacuating students is the hard part, most people do not respond to fire alarms,” said Zachary Hawthorne, Games Room Lead.

Once exiting the building, most students do not know where to go and create their own emergency plan.

“My son and I, as soon as we came to this school, we made a designated area at the furthest corner of the parking structure by the Sacramento State sign,” said Susan Jackson, psychology major.

Having married a firefighter 30 years ago, Jackson knows the importance of having a comprehensible evacuation plan, but not every student on campus has an evacuation route or knows about the campus wide program.

Elizabeth Navarro, psychology major, said she would rely on signs put up by specific buildings to know where the designated safety zones would be.

The issue with Navarro’s plan is that buildings do not have signs to indicate where the safety zones are, this is what a building coordinator or floor marshal would do under the Building Emergency Preparedness Program.

Marco Lopez, Union Building Supervisor said, “All the full-time people who work here [the Union] slap on a lime green vest and escort them out, being as efficient as possible.”

As Navarro suggested there are no signs to determine what is the next step or enough education for students to be informed. For Sac State students who would like to read the procedures for the Union or any other specific building go to and click the link Building Emergency Preparedness Program or call campus police at 278-685.