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May 9, 2016

UMass completes sprinkler installation

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The University of Massachusetts this past year completed its seven-year project of installing sprinkler systems in every dorm, according to a University release.

“There is no finish line in fire safety, but we should recognize and appreciate that UMass Amherst has achieved an outstanding level of protection for students living in residence halls,” Donald Robinson, the director of Environmental Health and Safety at UMass, said in the release.

According to the release, newly constructed residence halls and older ones that are more than 70 feet tall must have sprinkler systems installed, by order of the state fire code. But campus officials said they felt that it was important to extend the protection of the sprinkler systems to all the residence halls, regardless of height.

“I am proud of the leadership the University of Massachusetts has shown by making such a significant commitment to the safety of its students. This is an investment that will protect not only today’s students but generations of students to come,” State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan was quoted as saying in the release.

The sprinklers were installed in the University’s 45 residence halls, which house more than 12,000 students in 7,163 rooms, according to the release.  The installation program began in 2005 and it protects 31 buildings.

“Taking on a project of this magnitude reflects the university’s belief that investing in the safety of our students is a fundamental priority,” said Eddie Hull, the executive director of residential life, in the release. “Some of these facilities were constructed in the 1940s and 1950s, so this was a complicated undertaking that we principally tackled during the summer when residence halls are unoccupied. Our Facilities Planning department did an outstanding job managing the process.”

The $27.2 million voluntary retrofit program was funded by the University of Massachusetts Building Authority, which provided $22.4 million, and state funds, which provided $4.8 million, according to the release.

Mary Reines can be reached at mreines@student.umass.edu.

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