University News

OMAC alarm, sprinklers functioned in fire incident

Facilities Management says all systems worked properly during response to locker room fire

Senior Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 19, 2014

During Thursday’s electrical fire in the men’s track and field locker room in the Olney-Margolies Athletic Center, all fire prevention measures functioned properly, said Stephen Maiorisi, vice president of facilities management. Though several of the athletes present at the time of the fire observed that the sprinkler system did not immediately activate, Stephen Morin, director of environmental health and safety, wrote in an email to The Herald that the heat-activated sprinkler heads did respond to the fire.

Acting Captain John Devlin of the Providence Fire Department, who responded to the incident, and Director of Facilities Services Deb Dunphy both confirmed that the locker room had a heat detector, not a smoke detector. Steam from showers can activate smoke detectors, making them impractical for the room.

The fire was “10 or 15 feet away” from the heat detector, said Luke Muzikowski ’17, a member of the team who was present at the time of the fire. Both the detector and the sprinklers are activated when the room reaches a certain temperature, Devlin said, adding that the alarm and sprinkler systems were therefore not at the threshold temperature to activate the alarm by the time the runners left the locker room and the building was evacuated.

“It worked exactly the way it was supposed to,” Maiorisi said.

The fire destroyed belongings of multiple members of the track team, while one student also sustained minor injuries, The Herald previously reported.

The University has agreed to replace the equipment the athletes lost in the fire, Muzikowski said, adding that he met with Jack Hayes, director of athletics, to discuss the incident. But the athletes were not given a timeframe for when they might be compensated or when their belongings might be replaced, Muzikowski said.

The athletics department is working with the University’s insurance office to clarify the details of how and when the athletes will be reimbursed for losses incurred as a result of the fire, said Senior Associate Director of Athletics-Facilities Tom Bold.

Bold added that the locker room is currently being renovated and has already been stripped of its previous lockers and carpeting. The University is looking into changing the layout of the locker room, Bold said, noting that the current locker room’s “very tight space” contributed in part to the spread of the flames during Thursday’s fire.

Muzikowski said that during their meeting, Hayes did not inform him what the team’s locker room situation will be in the meantime. The locker room status remains the “most unclear aspect” of moving forward after the fire, he added.

The room could be ready for use in roughly a month if it is restored with the same layout, Bold said. But this timeline could be longer if the University decides to change the arrangement and needs to order different types of lockers.

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