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I have heard and read so many inaccuracies concerning Pepperdine and the Woolsey Fire that I feel compelled to try to set the record straight.
First, the decision to shelter-in-place.
This was not a last-minute decision. It was made 30 years ago in conjunction with the Los Angeles County Fire Department after the ’85 fire, and is reviewed regularly as part of Pepperdine’s ironclad Emergency Response Plan. Its benefits are obvious ... to keep the students safe in a protected environment rather than throw them out on the streets to further overwhelm an already ill-conceived evacuation plan, thereby putting their lives in danger. Where would you prefer your child to be? Shelter-in-place is standard fire/disaster response protocol for certain situations.
Second, the notion that local fire resources were disproportionately allocated to Pepperdine.
Pepperdine has two fire vehicles and its own fire team experienced in wildfire defense, and all foliage is well cut back from property lines. Early on, County Fire Air Operations began using the campus and the water from its reservoirs to make airdrops throughout Malibu. It was only at approximately 11:30 p.m. on Nov. 9 that two LA County strike teams arrived at Pepperdine to aid the campus firefighters in an immediate threat, [Pepperdine fire officials stated]. After several hours, they left once the threat was contained. This does not seem like an over-allocation of resources.
LACFD asked the Pepperdine fire truck and crew to address a fire on the Hughes property which they successfully did. I believe this was the morning of Nov. 10.
Pepperdine has two water tanks on campus holding a combined 4.6 million gallons.
These tanks feed local area fire hydrants and during the Woolsey Fire they were used consistently by the fire department.
The County routinely uses Pepperdine’s water for air-drops, and uses the landing zone at Alumni Park for Medivac flights.
Pepperdine is a great resource and friend of Malibu’s, not only in time of need, but culturally as well. We should be only too happy to have the University in our midst as part of the greater community of Malibu. When searching for scapegoats to blame for the disaster that was Woolsey, let’s not include Pepperdine.
Graeme Clifford, Malibu resident