New sprinkler system coming to McCormick Hall

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While students are away over spring break Marquette will continue work on a new fire protection sprinkler system in McCormick Hall.

Mashuda Hall, Carpenter Hall, Cobeen Hall, Triangle Fraternity and Sigma Phi Delta Fraternity already have the system installed. McCormick Hall will be the last building to receive the system, which comes as a result of stricter building code requirements looming in Wisconsin.

In 2005, Wisconsin passed Act 78, which requires all residence halls, dormitories and residential facilities sponsored by the university to contain an automatic fire sprinkler system on each floor by January 1, 2014.

According to the National Fire Incident Reporting System and the Fire Analysis and Research Division reports, sprinkler systems reduce fire deaths and property loss by a factor of one-half to two-thirds.

Tom Ganey, the university architect, said work began to install a new fire protection sprinkler system in McCormick last summer. The first residence hall to receive the new system was Mashuda Hall in 2007.

Piping was installed in the top three floors of the building. The built-in closets were taken out and wardrobes were placed in the rooms.

Ganey said an additional sprinkler head would have had to be installed in each closet, so the university removed the closets to save money.

A new emergency generator will also be installed in McCormick over spring break and will provide energy for the pump to send water up the building in the event of an emergency. This summer, piping will be placed in the second floor and above.

“By August, the sprinkler system will be ready to go,” Ganey said. He said in summer 2013 a fire protection sprinkler system will be installed in the first and lower levels.

Chuck Lamb, vice president of finance, could not release a total cost for the project. Lamb said funding for the sprinkler systems came from two sources: the annual capital budget and a previous bond issue.

Ron Ripley, director of facility services, said each project was done over the course of two years.

“We can only perform these operations in the summer, so we are working our way through the buildings,” Ripley said.

Ripley said some cosmetic work was done to the buildings while the sprinkler system was installed. He said contractors were hired to perform the work.

“The nature of (Marquette residence halls) is that they don’t burn,” Ripley said. “They are made out of concrete.”

Ripley also said it is unusual that old buildings need to renovate when codes change.

“This is not an inexpensive undertaking to retrofit all our buildings with sprinkler systems,” Ripley said. “Fortunately, the time frame allowed us to space out the work.”

Regarding McCormick Hall, which was dedicated in 1968, Ganey said there is always talk about renovation or demolition of the building.

“Presently, we have a lot of suggestions but no funding plan,” Ganey said.

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