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Pressure tanks cause RPAC evacuation

30 p.m. on Sunday.

Steam overwhelmed pressure tanks, causing fire alarms to go off at the McCorkle Aquatic Pavillion at 8:15 p.m. Sunday.

“They’re fed by steam, and the controls didn’t shut down when they should’ve, and it overheated the system,” said Michael Mitchell, zone maintenance technician.

The machines did what they were supposed to and set off the alarm after malfunctioning, said Diane Jensen, associate director of facilities at the RPAC.

“Everything’s working properly right now. We just need to put it back the way it was,” Mitchell said. “A couple parts need to get ordered.”

Officials made the decision to completely evacuate students from the RPAC building and aquatic center as a safety precaution at 8:31 p.m.

“The FOD (Facilities Operations and Development) was on the scene at 8:36 and went inside the room at 8:38 and reset the system,” said Deputy Chief of Police Richard Morman. “By 8:48, the buildings were still closed, but had no risk.”

Mitchell isolated the problem and officials decided it was necessary to take precautions. The force of the steam in the pressure tanks surprised the FOD staff, Mitchell said.

Scott Plunkett, a fifth-year in biochemistry, said the alarm confused him at first.

“My friend and I came and got food and saw fire lights going off,” Plunkett said. “There was no sound alarm at first. It was confusing.”

An announcement was made telling students to evacuate the building for “precautionary measures.”

“Everyone was looking around, and we see people in towels and bathing suits come from the aquatic center and they fairly urgently told us to get out,” Plunkett said.

The RPAC is divided into three buildings. Building A is the academic building, building B is the work-out facility and building C is the aquatic center.

“Each building is set up separately so they won’t impact each other. What impacts the pools will not impact the other buildings,” Jensen said.

Building B, the RPAC’s main building, was evacuated strictly for safety measures.

“It’s just like I have a sniffle sometimes; sometimes the machines do too,” Jensen said.

Mitchell said the price of the parts to fix the pressure tanks is not yet available, but everything should be fixed within a week.


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