Sprinkler system upgrades will enhance safety in Old Main

MSU President's column for Traill County Tribune

June 11, 2016 

Sprinkler system upgrades will enhance safety in Old Main

 

During a recent fire protection system inspection of Old Main, we learned that some upgrades and modifications are needed. The sprinkler system we have is obsolete and the manufacturer no longer makes the parts for this system. This is an important safety issue for our campus.

Fire protection on the attic level of the building is what is known as a dry system. The system is filled with air, which is pushed out to allow water to flow through, only in the case of a fire emergency. The reason for a dry system in this area of the building has to do with weather temperatures. Since the attic is not heated, if there were water in the system at all times, it would freeze and pipes would break when outdoor temperatures are below freezing.

We have been able to secure funding and will proceed with a project to remove and replace the old system. The sprinkler heads and escutcheons located throughout the building, which are more than 49 years old, will be replaced. Additional sprinklers will also be installed. On the attic level, there will be a new backflow and dry valve. The wet zone, which is a part of all levels of the building, other than the attic, will be replaced as well. Additional upgrades will include new electrical switches and an air compressor. All work will be completed in accord with National Fire Protection Association guidelines and state codes.

Estimated cost of the fire protection system project is $85,000. In May, I presented this project to the State Board of Higher Education, along with our proposed state-funded capital project. The $4,921,149 capital project would involve building a four-floor addition on the east end of Old Main. All HVAC, electrical, and plumbing equipment for the building would be housed in this addition. The 10,500 sq. ft. addition would create zones for equalizing heating and cooling; greatly improve plumbing functionality and allow adequate numbers of accessible restroom facilities; and add a passenger/freight elevator.

Given the serious budget constraints that we face at the state level, we have decided to proceed with the sprinkler system upgrade project using funding to which we already have access. The 2015 Legislature provided the NDUS with funding designated for campus security. Mayville State received a $183,000 allocation from this pool. We will use these dollars to fund the sprinkler project and initial implementation of a card access system that will control access to campus buildings from within our security pool.

 Nova Fire Protection, Inc., Fargo, ND has been hired to complete the fire protection system project. Their work will begin early in July and will be completed before students return to campus to begin the fall semester in August.

This project is another in our growing list of projects that is helping to provide a safe, comfortable, and pleasing campus environment in which our students can learn and our faculty and staff can work. We’ve made great strides over the last several years. In 2008, the campus recorded 40% deferred maintenance. Today, that number has been reduced to six to eight percent deferred maintenance. This goes hand in hand with our enrollment growth. From 2007 to 2014, Mayville State University’s enrollment increased by 36.2%, more than four times more than the North Dakota University System average of 8.8%. We are proud of the good things that are happening at Mayville State. It is our privilege to provide many wonderful educational and other opportunities to the people of our state.