After a flood and a small fire, residents of Harbin Hall have had their share of facilities troubles this past semester.
The flood hit first, on March 27, after an air conditioning pipe burst. The second and third floor of Harbin experienced water leakage from the ceiling in some areas and pooling water on the floor in others.
Student reactions to the pace and effectiveness of the cleanup have been mixed; some students initially called for more extreme action by the university, but evaluations of the university response have become more positive as weeks passed.
Water continues to be an issue on the ninth floor of Harbin, however, where several students have reported that a portion of the ceiling is leaking. According to ninth floor resident Bryan McTiernan (COL ’13), garbage cans are being used to catch the dripping water, and seventh floor resident Kerry Ryan (COL ’13) said there was also a “big dryer blowing air.”
Director of Media Relations Andy Pino said that the initial flood and the current leakage are unrelated.
“There is a mechanical room above the 9th floor where condensation pumps were found to be leaking. One pump has been repaired, and we are waiting for parts to repair the second one,” he said.
Last month’s flood in Harbin was followed by a small oven fire on April 20. Residents evacuated the building after a pizza in a cardboard box sparked a fire in the oven of the eighth-floor common room.
aggie Larkin (COL ’13), one of the students who discovered the fire, said that there was no permanent damage to the room. “Our common room is fully intact, except for the oven,” she said.
Larkin said there was a time delay between when the fire alarm was pulled and when it began to sound, and expressed concern about the gap.
“It is disconcerting to know that [the alarm] may take a few seconds to kick in,” she said.
According to Larkin and Kerry, one of the elevators in Harbin stopped running after the fire. Pino said that the elevator in question is out of service due to a faulty electronic board.
“The replacement board we received was also bad. Once we have a properly functioning board, we’ll have the elevator up and running,” he said.
Harbin has not been the only campus building this year to see action from the D.C. Fire Department. New North and New South Hall both experienced fires that created significantly more damage than the fire in Harbin.
Students living in New South were evacuated after an electrical fire started in a third- floor room on Dec. 6, 2009. As The Hoya reported in December, the flames caused smoke damage on the third floor, which was exacerbated by water damage from the emergency sprinklers. A statement made at the time by a spokesperson for the fire department indicated the sprinklers kept the fire damage to a minimum and prevented any injuries. Residents of the 23 affected rooms were temporarily relocated to other dorms while Munters, a fire and water cleanup restoration company, repaired the damage.
unters was also called after a fire broke out in an office on the second floor of New North on April 15, according to Director of Media Relations Andy Pino. The fire injured two facilities employees and, as in New North, the sprinklers created water damage on the first and second floor of the building, according to the original coverage in The Hoya.
Faculty members in the philosophy and theology departments, which were both affected by the fire, have been positive in their feedback on the cleanup process.
“Going forward, all the carpets will be replaced. The portions of dry wall that got wet were removed and will be replaced. Everything, including every file cabinet, was moved to make sure no water was left lurking. So we should be OK, at least once the stinky carpet is removed,” said Philosophy department chair Wayne Davis
Theology department chair Terrence Reynolds also said that the cleanup process has been handled efficiently, but indicated that a theft had occurred after the fire.
“One laptop computer was stolen shortly after the fire, but no other personal items have been reported missing,” Reynolds said.
Pino confirmed that the theft had occurred, and said that the Department of Public Safety is conducting an investigation.
Nate Olson (GRD ’11), who teaches in the philosophy department, said that the philosophy department and the Kennedy Institute of Ethics have made adjustments for professors whose offices were affected.