Late night sprinkler tampering forces male residents outside for five hours

Kelsey Ruane

Residents of Good Counsel Hall were evacuated around 1:30 a.m. on April 18 due to an activation of the sprinkler system on the third floor caused by vandalism.

Two sprinkler heads located near each other were broken off, according to Director of Public Safety Dave Tedjeske, which resulted in a rush of water into the hallway, stairwell and elevator shaft.

“I woke up to the alarm and people yelling,” said sophomore Matt Nawrocki, who lives on the third floor. “When I left my room, I had to walk through a giant moat of water in just my socks.”

“I pushed a guy out of the way down the stairwell,” sophomore Joe Casey said about the frantic rush to evacuate the building.

Though the entire building was required to evacuate at the sound of the alarm, female residents were allowed to return to their wing around 2:30 a.m., since the water damage had been restricted to the male residents’ wing.

Male residents were told that it was unlikely they would be allowed back into the building until 6 a.m. Many made alternate arrangements to stay with friends in the Quad or on West Campus.

Some lingered in Donohue and outside Good Counsel Hall until the morning.

“My carpet was a puddle,” said sophomore John Honochick, who lives on the third floor close to the sprinkler heads that were vandalized. “Everything that had been on the floor was wet.”

During the night, most of the water was extracted and the alarms reset. The sprinkler heads were replaced over the weekend and everything has been repaired, according to Tedjeski.

“The building was never without fire alarm protection or a sprinkler system,” Tedjeske said.

No student rooms were seriously damaged, though some R.A. staff apartments were, according to Marie Schauder, assistant director for Housing Services.

The building sustained no structural damage.

“We were very lucky,” Schauder said.

“We’ve had students accidentally set off the sprinklers in the past through horseplay or hanging clothes to dry,” Schauder said. “It happens in the apartments more so than other residence halls.”

“Some of that accidental damage can lead to extensive cost,” she added.

Tedjeske confirmed that last weekend’s incident at Good Counsel Hall was indeed an act of vandalism.

“The investigation is very much ongoing,” Tedjeske said. “We received additional information this week about possible suspects.”

“When individuals responsible for activating a false fire alarm or damaging a fire extinguisher fail to claim direct responsibility for that behavior, cannot be identified by Residence life staff and are not identified by the residents of the building in which the vandalism occurred, the fines in question may be assessed against the entire hall,” according to the Student Handbook.

The cost of damages to the building, which has 245 residents, has yet to be determined.

“It was a miserable experience,” said sophomore Val Flores who went to a nearby friend’s house instead of spending the entire night in Donohue. “I planned to get up early to do work and that didn’t happen.”