Wilcocks fire: investigation into the possible cause of fire is underway

The investigation into the possible cause of the fire which destroyed parts of the Wilcocks building,  is currently underway and in the interest of safety and security, the building is still cordoned off, but arrangements for staff to get access to their offices and essential office equipment on the first and second floor are currently being made. This, however, will only be possible at the earliest, on Friday morning (17 December). The third floor has unfortunately been destroyed by the fire and no access to this floor will be allowed.

Wilcocks building on fire

Fire at Wilcocks building

The Contingency Committee concerned with the handling of the aftermath of last week’s fire in the Wilcocks building convened on Wednesday morning to, amongst others, finalise details for the alternative accommodation of the staff members of the affected departments (History, Psychology, the Postgraduate and International Office and the University Archives) with the aim to restore their complete functioning within the coming week. The following arrangements were made:

Access to the building

• Staff members will be informed by their respective departmental chairperson when they can enter the building, in small groups and under supervision and escorted by a safety officer. Staff members will be required to sign an indemnity form and they must also ensure that they obtain a form where they can note the university assets and personal items that will be removed from the premises.

• Staff members are also requested to wear construction helmets, sturdy shoes and appropriate clothing when they enter the building. Flip-flops and sandals must please be avoided.

• All computers will be tested by IT before it can be moved to an alternative workstation (at home or other offices).

• Staff who will not be able to be in Stellenbosch to access their offices on Friday will be able to do so in the second week of January 2011.

Alternative office space

• Alternative office space for the affected staff members have already been identified and cleared with the chairpersons of the various departments with due cognizance of their academic and administrative needs.

• According to current planning, the staff members of the Department of History will be housed at the Sasol Arts Museum and the Journalism building; the Department of Psychology will move into the GG Cillie building (Education) and the JS Gericke Library, while the Postgraduate and International Office will be accommodated on the ground floor of Admin A building (the old location of the University Press). The small number of Archives staff members will also be accommodated in the Admin A building. (The latter’s administrative tasks can, to a large extent, be performed independently from the Archives. To date the extent of damage to the Archives has not been determined.)

• A residential dwelling at the Welgevallen Experimental farm will be equipped for the use of the Clinical Psychology students. Containers that have been converted into offices will be utilised as cubicles for practical consultation sessions by the Department of Psychology.

• Where possible, land line telephones will be re-routed to cell phones while the necessary network points are installed.

Affected lecturing halls

• The three lecture halls that are housed in the Wilcocks building have sustained considerable damage. Lectures presented by the respective departments will be moved to the Kruiskerk and the HB Thom theatre. One of the movie theatres in the Student Centre is also available for this purpose.

• The necessary multimedia and teaching equipment have been ordered and will be ready when classes resume in January 2011.

An Action Committee has been established to ensure that all decisions taken pertaining to the Wilcocks building are successfully executed during the December break.