University News

Broken sprinkler floods Chapin

Upper-floor residents temporarily evacuated following flooding and potential water damage

Senior Staff Writer
Monday, November 24, 2014

A sprinkler head that was broken on the fourth floor of Chapin House Saturday night resulted in some flooding and subsequent water damage, said Richard Hilton, associate director of residential life. No students were injured, and Facilities Management, aided by a private contractor, is working on cleaning the building and student property as well as investigating the incident, he added.

The broken sprinkler head caused the fire alarms to go off, forcing students to evacuate the building. “When I arrived on scene, the building had already been evacuated and the students in the rooms that were affected had been placed outside the building, and we were working more so on getting settled for the night,” Hilton said.

Max Mulitz ’15, who lives on the fourth floor of Chapin, said he was in his dorm room when the fire alarm went off. When the alarm sounded, Mulitz “opened the door, and the water was just monsooning out of the sprinkler in the hallway. There was a little bit of panic … (and) there were about 10 people hanging out up there.”

After evacuating the building, residents were let in to get their necessary belongings before moving elsewhere. “By then there were maybe two or three inches of water on my floor,” Mulitz said. “Water was going down from the fourth floor to the third floor to the second floor, just coming down the stairs … and then later, through the floors.”

After Facilities Management assessed the water damage, 28 students were displaced for the night and received emails with instructions to either make arrangements elsewhere or contact the Office of Residential Life to find temporary housing, such as open rooms or unfilled doubles, Hilton said.

Efforts to clean the building are now underway, Hilton said. “Facilities is in there now doing a cleaning of the building, and we’re working with students to have items cleaned that need to be cleaned from the water,” he said. Facilities Management brought in a contracting service that arrived on the scene at 12:30 a.m. Saturday night to start cleaning, removing water and setting up drying equipment, he added.

At press time, 17 of the students had been let back into their rooms, and the remaining 11 are scheduled to be back in their rooms by Wednesday, Hilton said. “That is the day we’re shooting for,” he added. “If it’s sooner, then we’ll reach out to those students.”

“Everything in my room is now in plastic bags … they were really good about that,” Mulitz said. “They seem to be moving pretty quickly as far as cleaning everything.”

Cleaning services are focusing on repairs, but administrators will soon assess any student property losses, Hilton said, adding that his office is reaching out Monday to the Office of Insurance and Purchasing Services to determine how to proceed with any potential reimbursements.