Within the past few weeks, North Hall had a flooded elevator after a pipe burst and has been evacuated after a malfunctioning washing machine smoked triggering the fire alarm. Paul Novak, Director of Environmental Health and Safety, verified the safety of the building and confirmed renovation plans of North Hall.
Novak said that last week a pipe burst in North Hall due to the extreme cold.
“This is not a unique situation,” Novak said. “It was just because of the extreme cold and all of that and it broke and it flooded the elevator, but it was not unique because in the last I would say week or so, we’ve been plagued with a number of sprinkler line breaks.”
Sprinkler line breaks have happened not only in North Hall, but in Building D and Boozel as well within the past few weeks, Novak explained.
“It’s just because of the cold weather, unfortunately,” Novak said. “It’s just one of those things, it’s not due to any kind of aging pipes because they are all plastic. It’s just because of the extreme cold temperature here.”
Novak said that within his four years at SRU the trigger of the fire alarm in North Hall that happened on Feb. 11 was the first time that anything severe has happened to North Hall since the fire that burned down the building on the morning of Oct. 16, 1937. Novak said any time a fire alarm goes off, it is going off for a reason.
According to Novak, approximately $3,500 is spent yearly to test and inspect the fire suppression and detection systems including fire extinguishers semi-annually in North Hall.
Daniel Brown, Assistant Director of Housing Operations, explained that if something severe were to ever happen to North Hall or any other residence hall, matters would be viewed from a time perspective.
Brown said that if it were just an emergency to last for a few days, cots would be set up in designated areas for students to sleep on. If it were a long-term emergency, a contract would be set up with local hotels and local housing areas in Slippery Rock in order to accommodate the students.
“It wouldn’t be like you’re living three weeks in the gym on a cot,” Brown said.
Brown and Novak met last week to discuss the renovations of housing.
“The department of Residence Life is looking at all of the residence halls, including A through F as well, and specifically Rhoads Hall and North Hall are slated for some upgrades and modifications,” Novak said.
Novak also added that the Rock Apartments are due for some upgrades as well.
Brown said that the eight community bathrooms in North Hall are going to be renovated this summer.
“That will be resurfacing, some new fixtures, so that will be some good updates in that area,” Brown said.
Brown said that these community bathroom renovations are expected to cost between $200,000 and $250,000.
Brown said that there is also a proposal to put new flooring in the dorm rooms of North Hall in the future as well.
Novak explained that safety renovations are projected to begin the summer of 2016.
“We’re going to do some upgrades. As far as safety goes, we’re looking to upgrade the fire alarm system and the devices,” Novak said.
He said that currently in North Hall the fire alarms in the hallways report to campus police dispatch. The individual room units will alarm when set off, but there is no notification to campus police dispatch.
“So that’s going to change,” Novak said. “We’re going to upgrade the fire alarm system to make sure that all the devices report, we’re going to put new devices in, we are going to move to an addressable system that we can talk, you know we can give instructions, and we are also going to move the technology to fiber.”
He said there are a number of buildings on campus that still use telephone lines to communicate, which is outdated. He said fiber makes results in more efficient communication.
Novak said that one thing he is looking to put in all the dorms and residences halls are the call boxes that are on the walls inside other campus buildings. With residence halls as their full capacity, Novak believes that these call boxes will help make the campus safer.
Brown said that Residence Life always plans to look forward.
Brown said that in the future Residence Life is looking to put new furniture on one of the floors in Rhoads Hall and reconstruct the front porch of Rhoads Hall as well.