Budget / Facilities Management / University

South Quad set to receive fire suppression update; North Campus remains without system

Three South Quad residence halls are set to receive new fire suppression systems, yet residence halls without proper fire suppression systems are still an area of concern for some students.

The $4.6 million project to update the South Quad residencies will begin at the end of the Spring semester. Project details include an electrical update in all four buildings and various sprinkler systems installed in Merrill, Thorpe and Beddow Halls, as well as Merrill Residential Restaurant.

Sweeney Hall will be the only residence hall in the quad not to receive a new system. It had a system installed in 2007 while other repairs were being made after the building experienced water damage.

The current fire pump is located in the South Quad mechanical room and is connected to the Sweeney Hall fire suppression system. Once the installation of the systems in the other three residence halls in the quad is completed, the pump will be connected to the entire quad.

Steve Lawrence, associate vice president of Facilities Management, said the project will also equip Sweeney Hall and the rest of the quad with new fire alarms.

“When these older buildings were built, fire suppression systems were not required,” he said. “Since a fire pump is already there, we thought we would put systems in the rest of the (South) Quad.”

Lawrence said a company will be hired soon to design the fire suppression systems and a construction management firm will be hired afterward to perform the installation.

The fire suppression systems will be tested annually by checking the control valve to confirm the water is flowing correctly. The fire pump will also be examined to make sure it is functioning properly.

The funding of the project is split, with $2.5 million coming from the deferred maintenance budget to cover the fire alarm systems, and $2.1 million coming from the capital fund to help pay for the three new fire suppression systems.

Once completed, 77 percent of CMU’s residence halls will be equipped with a fire suppression system, leaving the North Campus residence halls as the only on-campus housing without suppression systems.

Lawrence said the halls without suppression systems might be examined in the future.

“There is a possibility we will ask for funding for suppression systems in the North Quad for Summer 2015,” Lawrence said. “I think eventually all of the residence halls will have fire suppression systems.”

Student reaction

North Campus’ lack of fire suppression systems has led to mixed reactions from students.

Trisha Funk, a junior from Olivet, said the installation of the fire suppression systems in the South Quad is necessary, but thinks it should have been done sooner.

“I think it’s good, but it’s surprising that they are just now installing the systems,” Funk said. “You never know when a fire is going to happen, so it’s good to have a sprinkler system in place to put a fire out as soon as possible.”

Milford senior Steven Zaborowski agreed the installation is something that will help in the safety of students living in the residence halls.

“If it was deemed a necessary upgrade, then that is great for the safety and the well-being of the students living there,” Zaborowski said.

Some students said they would not feel any more at risk living in a residence hall without one, including Sara Mattina, a sophomore from Shelby Township.

Mattina said fire suppression systems should be installed in all residence halls to help contain and put out potential fires, but she would not feel threatened living in a residence hall lacking a system because of the small chance of a damaging fire actually occurring.

“If I did live in a dorm without a system, and there was a fire and everything burned, I would feel upset that there wasn’t one,” Mattina said. “But if I was unaffected, I wouldn’t care.”

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