News in Brief: Students Eligible to Receive Fire Detectors

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The Berkeley Fire Department announced last week the donation of 500 smoke detectors as part of a program aimed at eliminating fatal fires in off-campus student housing.

The detectors were donated by UC Berkeley and First Alert, an Aurora, Ill.-based smoke detector company. To receive a smoke detector, students must file an application with the Berkeley Fire Department.

Berkeley Assistant Fire Chief David Orth said the "transient student population" is often missed when it comes to fire safety.

The program will target UC Berkeley students living off campus, especially those in houses and small apartment complexes, Orth said.

Two UC Berkeley students died in separate fires during the 2000-01 academic year. Both houses, one in Oakland and one in Berkeley, lacked adequate smoke detectors.

Only students living in the city of Berkeley are eligible. But one in three university students live outside the city, said Paul Hogarth, a member of the Rent Stabilization board and a tenant's rights advocate.

"It's a good positive step on the part of the Fire Department, (but) it's a problem that needs to be handled from a number of different angles," Hogarth said.

Wendy Lee and Mike Meyers

Trees Gain Support From City Council

The Berkeley City Council yesterday unanimously endorsed an environmental coalition's efforts to preserve the last remnants of California's ancient forests.

The Citizens' Campaign for Old-Growth Preservation, working with other environmental groups, is gathering signatures to place an initiative on the March 2004 ballot to protect all trees on private land that were alive before 1850, the year California entered the Union.

"(The city's endorsement) has been a real big win," said Redwood Mary, an environmental activist and a leader of the effort. "When people hear about this, they want to help."

The Campaign will now make appeals to the Oakland, San Jose and San Francisco City Councils, Mary said. It will also collect signatures at Earth Day events across the state.

Other members of the coalition include the Sierra Club, Rainforest Action Network and Greenpeace.

Berkeley's Peace and Justice Commission last week endorsed the coalition's ballot drive.

"The preservation of these ancient forests (is) a social justice issue," the commission said in a statement.

The ballot drive needs over 400,000 signatures by May 31 to qualify for the March 2004 ballot.

Mike Meyers


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