Dixie State University students and staff members weathered a different storm Dec. 9 when fire sprinkler pipes in the Edward H. and Idonna E. Snow Science Center broke and sent water down to soak equipment and furniture.
Alerted by the fire alarm at 8:50 a.m., staff rushed to the Snow Center to save as much property as possible from the burst pipes. Spurred by St. George’s below-freezing temperatures, the flood in Room 151 moved downstairs where it damaged a new computer lab before responders shut the water flow off.
Sherry Ruesch, campus services executive director, said estimating the damage done, three ruined computers and water-stained tiles, was difficult until staff, specifically information technology, gauged the incident’s most disastrous aspect: its drenching of the computer lab slated to open this semester. Those at the scene moved computers from the lab to a safe location to salvage all they could.
“We wiped them off,” she said. “The president was in here with everybody else wiping down computers. We had tons of help.”
Josh Thayne, campus services risk manager and safety officer, said in order to prevent the broken sprinkler from damaging more areas of the building, staff had to move equipment and furniture fast and shut down the sprinkler riser. Despite their quick efforts, the water moved from its origin in Room 151 to Room 134, Room 148, Room 9 and downstairs in Room 2.
After responders took note of the damage and made sure all students and staff members in the building during the flood were OK, Ruesch said administration acted quickly to hire AAA Disaster Services. Issues caused by the broken pipe created a complicated situation because DSU maintenance workers had to attend to the other problems the cold weather brought — such as icy walkways, she said.
With help from AAA Disaster Crew members, who brought equipment to dry and clean the area, Ruesch said the DSU staff members made the necessary steps to make sure classes can be held in the Snow Center, particularly the lab.
As the new semester began Monday, three weeks after the flood, Ruesch said the lab is ready for student use. In addition, the incident highlighted potential weather-related problems so staff members can be prepared in the future, she said.
“From now on we will watch the forecast a little closer; if it’s going to be that cold, then we’re going to turn everything on higher,” Ruesch said, mentioning how St. George’s normally high temperatures allow staff to keep furnaces lower.
Thayne said students should become familiar with DSU’s policies and procedures in regards to emergencies. Whether a situation seems serious or not, taking the necessary steps to stay safe is always a good choice, he said.