Eastman Hall recently underwent a renovation due to damage caused by a fire that took place in the residence hall Dec.15.
The fire was contained to the ductwork of the building’s attic and extinguished by the Ithaca Fire Department. The fire is believed to be caused by lint build-up in laundry dryers, Dave Maley, senior public relations officer in the Department of College Relations and Communications, said in a press release. Damage to the building was minimal, but the bathrooms, laundry rooms and kitchens on the even side of the building were temporarily unavailable for use, Maley said. The college is now taking steps to repair the damages in Eastman, as well as prevent similar incidents in other residence halls.
Eastman is one of the college’s lower quads, constructed in 1963, according to the college’s archives. The dryer vent system is inspected and maintained twice annually. In response to the fire, every duct system for every dryer on campus underwent this process before break. An outside contractor began this process on Dec. 18, and the dryers were ready for use when students returned to campus after winter break, Tim Carey, associate vice president in the Office of Facilities, said. The Office of Facilities and the Office of Public Safety have met to discuss the fire, and are currently deciding whether or not additional safety measures will be taken, Carey said.
“The safety of our students and the entire college community is our top priority,” Carey said.
Residents of the building were quickly evacuated and unable to access the building for approximately four hours after the incident, freshman Noah Lindsay, an Eastman resident, said.
Many students were under the impression that the fire was a drill, Lindsay said. One person was judicially referred for not leaving the building during the alarm, according to the Ithaca College Public Safety Logs. Lindsay said the residents left the building unprepared for extended time away from their rooms. He said the students were instructed to wait in Clark Lounge, some still in pajamas or wrapped in blankets.
Freshman Ariyahna Bernard, an Eastman resident, felt that there was a lack of communication during the fire.
“I was frustrated during the whole experience,” Bernard said.
The aftermath of the fire inconvenienced everyday life for Eastman residents, Bernard said. The damage done to the bathroom was fixed and available to students within the day. The laundry room and kitchen, however, were unavailable to students for the remainder of the semester, Bernard said. There was slight damage to certain individual rooms as well; Bernard said her room had water leakage on the floor and an odor.
Eastman residents were given access to Bogart and Lyon Halls’ laundry rooms and kitchens until they left for winter break. A new laundry room in a new location, off of Eastman’s main lobby, was completed on Jan. 19, Jess Shapiro, residence director of Eastman and Lyon Halls, said in an email. The new room includes existing machines from the old laundry room as well as new ones, Shapiro said.
Extra safety measures were taken during the construction of the new laundry room. The walls of the room are masonry fire-rated walls, which enhances the safety of the separation of the laundry room from surrounding areas, Carey said. The sprinkler and fire systems have been reworked and enhanced, and any penetration to the walls for further maintenance or electrical work will be closed with fire-rated caulk, Carey said.
The cost of the new laundry room was approximately $100,000, funded by the college’s residential life budget as well as the facilities renovation budget, Carey said.