January 26, 2020
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Story tips, concerns, questions?

By Jordan Darling, Editor-in-Chief

The north building of the Leo F. Cain Library doesn’t have fire sprinklers and it’s technically legal, but the news took many on campus by surprise, especially those who work for one of the organizations or programs recently moved into the space termed the Student Success Hub. In a Town Hall Budget Meeting on Nov. 19

Interim Vice President of Administration and Finance Ron Coley, while explaining the official budget breakdown for capital projects, mentioned to a standing-room-only LSU ballroom, that since the north library doesn’t have fire-sprinklers. The building was built in 1971, and pre-dated existing California public building codes mandating buildings utilize some type of fire preventive measure.

This came as a shock to many people on campus, with an informal survey of 50 people utilizing the library saying they did not know the building lacked fire sprinklers, and approximately half saying it raised concerns with them. 

Previously housing books and about 350 student study spaces, the third and fourth floors of the library were drastically reconfigured last semester, as 18 organizations dealing with students were moved to create a Student Success Hub (for more details see, Space Talk).

The new space has significantly increased foot traffic on those floors, from students utilizing those organizations and programs and the people staffing them.

“I am definitely concerned,” Anthony Onwuegbuzia a sociology major and student assistant for the Dymally Institute said. “I feel that we should be informed of all the aspects regarding safety here on this floor…I don’t feel too comfortable not knowing that information.”

Whether a room he enters has fire sprinklers overhead is the first thing Arnie Posadas, an IT support specialist working for CISE, located on the fourth floor, said he looks for when entering a room. Because he deals with so many electrical components, Posadas said he is keenly aware “that a fire can happen at any time.”

While the north building does not have automatic fire sprinklers built into the ceilings of the floors, fire hoses and fire extinguishers are located at several spots on each floor. 

There are plans to install fire sprinklers but the $4 million is in route, according to Roshni Thomas, director of Facilities Planning, Design, and Construction

“Many of the old buildings never had fire sprinklers as our occupancy has changed and the number of people have changed we have to bring them up to code. State deferred funding has already been allocated,” Thomas said.

Under California building code fire sprinklers have to be installed if it is a new building or undergoing significant renovation. The creation of the success hub fell under significant renovation, but Thomas said that since it is an ongoing project, the fire marshall has agreed to wait until it is completely finished to bring up to code.

Thomas said the university is expecting the funds in January and would be able to start the designs for the project in due course.

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