Sophomore students were evacuated from Claver Hall for four hours on Saturday night after the sprinkler system was activated. A student living on the fourth floor of Claver was found to have hung a coat hanger on the sprinkler pipe in the dorm room, according to Assistant Director of the Department of Public Safety John Ritchie. As strictly outlined in the student handbook, students are not allowed to tamper with any of the fire and smoke equipment. It states, “Heat and/or smoke detectors, as well as sprinkler heads, are extremely sensitive and may be activated by any contact.”

According to Ritchie, when the sprinkler system is activated, water is immediately discharged from the sprinkler heads.

“Sprinklers are designed to control fires and save lives,” said Ritchie.  “They normally discharge when a room temperature reaches 135 degrees or more.”

Originally, students living in the hall were evacuated and told that they were not allowed to enter the building for four hours due to a “fire,” as stated in an email sent to residents by Pejay Lucky, assistant director of Residence Life. However, with further investigation, the fire department concluded the evacuation was caused by the sprinkler system. During these four hours, students were forced to go elsewhere while the sprinkler head was replaced. Ritchie stated that once the sprinkler head is discharged, it has to be replaced.

“Fire code prohibits occupancy in a building when the fire suppression system is not functional,” said Ritchie. “We had to call our vendor in on Saturday evening to perform the service and recharge the system.”

Because the sprinkler system was set off, some students have had to deal with significant water damage. Sophomore Caroline Curtis is one of several students who has been working with ResLife to assess the damage she is facing now. Curtis and her suitemates have damages to their closet, walls and their personal items such as purses and boots, both items that cannot be washed.

In regards to the personal damages the students face to their belongings, according to the handbook, Fairfield is not responsible for students’ personal property located on university premises. At this time, however, the university is still investigating the damage seen in the suites in Claver.

Students involved with causing the incident will face consequences for their actions. Assistant Dean of Students Allison Berger spoke about the sanctions taken when students violate the Code of Conduct Policy.

“We take a multi-layered approach when we talk to students about their sanctions and their outcomes,” said Berger. “First, we look at where you stand with the University …second what is the educational layer of this …and then the third part is how we do move forward from this.”

Fairfield will continue its investigation of the situation. Students facing serious damage to their rooms have been relocated to other suites in Kostka Hall and Claver for the time being.

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