North Texas Daily

Five campus buildings without fire sprinklers

Five campus buildings without fire sprinklers

Five campus buildings without fire sprinklers
October 08
01:39 2015

Alejandro Medellina | Staff Writer

@skinny_fats

There are five buildings on campus that do not currently have operable fire sprinkler systems, but the university is not violating legal codes.

College Inn, Clark, Maple, McConnell and Sycamore halls are without sprinklers because the previous fire codes, at the time the halls were built, did not require them.

The codes did not require the buildings to have a fire sprinkler system installed, the same way some older model vehicles did not come with safety belts.

But as UNT expands, more funds are going to retrofit the buildings with sprinkler systems.

Bruce and Crumley halls were previously without the system but have recently been brought up to code. Clark Hall is undergoing a project, and Maple Hall is scheduled to have its system installed during summer 2016.

College Inn will be an exception to the rule, UNT System Fire Marshal Pat Dunlap said, because residents of the hall have direct access to the exterior.

Students have expressed concerns over the signs posted at Sycamore Hall warning students about the lack of fire sprinklers.

“There was never a sprinkler system at Sycamore Hall,” fire systems supervisor William Pingry said.

The signs were only posted because sprinkler heads were

recently put in, but because they are not yet in service it is mandated by the fire marshal that a sign be posted so students and faculty are aware.

Sycamore Hall was built in 1937, and over the years has had several purposes. But because it now houses the Eagle Commons Library, it is a priority to keep it fire safe.

The four-story, 208-room building is also being brought up to code because of a rise in student traffic, prompting the university to make the building fire ready in case of an emergency.

“The use of the building has changed,” said Dunlap. “It is being used for a library and we have a tremendous fire load in the books and the paper and that’s why we’re putting fire sprinklers in now.”

Roberta Sittel, Eagle Commons Library department head, said she is glad that UNT is adding sprinklers to Sycamore Hall because of concerns for student safety and because of the books.

David Reynolds, associate vice president of facilities, said the sprinkler heads are all finished but the system still needs to be connected to the main water line, something that could make the project go on for another six months.

Reynolds said the reason why all residence halls and campus buildings are not being outfitted with a sprinkler system at the same time is because, “it would probably break the budget.”

“There is no imminent danger and we’re not trying to correct something the [students] need to be afraid of,” Reynolds said. “It they live in a resident hall just follow the rules from the RA’s about where to cook in the resident hall and those kinds of things.”

Last year there was an incident where two students decided to make S’mores in Kerr Hall in the middle of the night and it set off the fire sprinkler. No one was injured in that incident, and only the sprinkler in their room went off.

“Another thing I’d like students to know: If a fire sprinkler goes off it’s not like in the movies and TV where if one goes off they all go off,” Reynolds said, “they only go off where the fire is.”

Featured Photo: Signs on the second floor of Sycamore Hall inform students of the non-functional sprinkler system inside. Meagan Sullivan | Associate Visuals Editor

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