Will heads roll at Santa Ana College after fire alarm fiasco?

“Fire alarms are not working at seven buildings at Santa Ana College as part of a longstanding problem that was known but not addressed, officials confirmed this week,” reported the O.C. Register.

The Santa Ana college administrators have posted security guards as “fire watches” in these buildings. I can only imagine the expense incurred in those extra man-hours. But they have to do this by law – and for good reason.

Plus, doesn’t Santa Ana College have a two year college program for firefighter trainees? They should have known better!

However, the real story is that “College trustees were not told about the broken alarms which in some cases date back to 2005 and originally involved as many as 11 buildings, said John Hanna, president of the board of the Rancho Santiago Community College District (RSCCD), which operates the college.”

“We’re furious about this,” Hanna said. “People in management were informed and nothing was done.” Maybe Hanna and company are upset, but according to the O.C. Register, it could take two years to install a new alarm system.

Kudos to the student reporters at the El Don college newspaper who broke this story, “The issue became public this week only after the El Don college newspaper published an investigative story about the system.”

Here is the rub, “The problems came to light in 2005 and 2006 inspection reports, but there are no records that anything was ever done with the information. Campus safety officials told the El Don campus newspaper they had reported the problems but repairs were not made.”

This is a firing offense. The Santa Ana College President, Erlinda Martinez (pictured above), ought to get the boot for the lack or reaction to a very serious safety issue. So should any of her other administrators who knew about this but did not do anything to fix the problems.

Here is what Martinez has to say on her web page, “I have been President of Santa Ana College since March 2005 and every day is still a wonder!” So Martinez was at Santa Ana College when the first reports about the fire alarm problems started to roll in.

The problems that were ignored or covered up at Santa Ana College were outrageous:

Minutes from previous facility committee meetings over the last two years do not show any mention of problems with fire alarms, despite written reports about them.

In some cases, problems with the bells ringing caused officials to simply disable them instead of repairing them.

A May 2006 inspection report shows not only rusted and non-working alarms, but also many panels that had dead batteries and other routine maintenance that had not been performed.

The El Don reported that alarms in two buildings had been switched to “silent mode” rather than having been repaired.

The paper also reported that alarms inside Cook Gymnasium, scene of large athletic events attended by hundreds, are not working and its fire hoses were disconnected from water lines.

If the RSCCD Board of Trustees, led by its President, John Hanna, does not insist that the RSCCD Chancellor, Eddie Hernandez, fire the Santa Ana College administrators who were involved in this fiasco, they should be held responsible when it comes time for them to run for reelection.

Is there a double standard at the RSCCD? Imagine if this happened at the RSCCD campus in Orange, Santiago College? God forbid that the majority white students at that campus should be put in danger (see demographics bar chart below). Hanna and his board would have probably already called on the resignation of all involved.
Young lives were put at risk by all those involved. You just can’t look the other way when a college administration team is this dysfunctional. Heads must roll. That they haven’t already makes you wonder if the wrongdoings of the Martinez administration will be swept under the rug because those affected by this fiasco were mostly Latino students.


The L.A. Times is reporting that “Santiago Canyon College, which is part of the same community college district, finished replacing its alarm system in 2005, after two years of construction at a cost of $247,000.” Why did Santiago Canyon College replace their fire alarm system before Santa Ana College did? The latter campus is far older than SCC. Why did SCC deal with their issues while the SAC officials were busy doing something else? This is fishy, to say the least.

About Admin

"Admin" is just editors Vern Nelson, Greg Diamond, or Ryan Cantor sharing something that they mostly didn't write themselves, but think you should see. Before December 2010, "Admin" may have been former blog owner Art Pedroza.