Date: Thu, 2 Jul 2009 10:04:56 -0400
Reply-To: List Moderator <ecgrants**At_Symbol_Here**UVM.EDU>
Sender: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
From: List Moderator <ecgrants**At_Symbol_Here**UVM.EDU>
Subject: RPI fire follow up

A little more information on the fire at RPI. Sounds like a mix of  
technical and political questions is outstanding.

- Ralph

12 firefighters treated after fire
Published: Tuesday, June 30, 2009

By James V. Franco
The Record

TROY =97 A two-alarm fire in a Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute lab  
Monday evening sent 12 firefighters to the hospital for testing.

=93When they got up to the third floor it was full of thick black  
smoke,=94 said Fire Chief Tom Garrett. =93We don=92t know what was 
or what these guys were exposed to.=94

As of 7:45 p.m., the firefighters were still at Samaritan Hospital  
undergoing blood work. He said while they were wearing masks and were  

in full turnout gear, the masks only cover part of their face.

=93We hope everything works out well on the tests for these guys,=94  
Garrett said. =93We have no idea what are in these labs. There are over  

250 labs on campus and we don=92t know what=92s in them.=94

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but Garrett said  
one female student in the Jonsson-Rowland Science Center was  
conducting an experiment. He said he did not know the type of  

Officials at RPI had this to say about the fire.

=93A Rensselaer Public Safety officer was the first on the scene and was 
able to interview the student involved,=94 RPI spokeswoman Gabrielle  
DeMarco said Monday. =93The individual sustained burns on her hands and  

was taken to Samaritan Hospital. Our safety officials will begin a  
detailed investigation as soon as they have access to the building.=94

The condition of the student was not considered serious.

Garrett said it is fortunate Engine 2, which is located across the  
street from the campus, was able to respond or =93they probably would  

have lost the entire third floor.=94

The city has been battling with RPI for a public safety fee which  
would, in part, increase the manning at Engine 2 from three  
firefighters per shift to five. As it stands now, if the firefighters  

there get an ambulance call, the fire engine is rendered useless  
because there is only one firefighter left at the station.

=93The mayor is very concerned about this also and has supported the  
idea of adding two more per shift,=94 Garrett said. =93The city of New  

Haven gets millions a year from Yale University for public safety but  

up there it=92s a one-way street.=94

Garrett said approximately 10 companies responded to the call and  
mutual aid of neighboring communities went into effect.

RPI clarifies timeline of lab fire
Published: Thursday, July 2, 2009

By Dave Canfield
The Record

TROY =97 After an investigation, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute now  

says the time gap between a student contacting public safety to report  

a lab fire Monday night and the summoning of emergency services was  
only 32 seconds, some 11 =BD minutes shorter than initially reported.

The fire resulted in 15 firefighters going to the hospital amid  
concerns about fumes and they remain out of work until test results  
are returned, said Fire Chief Tom Garrett, who continued Wednesday to  

question RPI=92s concern for the department and its desire to cooperate.

At a press conference Tuesday, Vice President of Administration Claude  

Rounds said the call came in to campus public safety =97 where all on- 

campus alarms ring =97 at 6:05 p.m. The fire department has recorded  
RPI=92s call to the county dispatcher at 6:17 p.m. and a fire truck  
dispatched a minute later, which amounted to a 12-minute gap that fire  

officials blasted as =93ridiculous.=94

The school now says the incident was reported to public safety 28  
seconds past 6:17 p.m., which then contacted 911 at exactly 6:18 p.m.

The new information =93clearly demonstrates that the Rensselaer Public  

Safety Office acted appropriately and competently, and that there was  

no delay in Rensselaer=92s reporting of the alarm,=94 Rounds said  
Wednesday in a statement.

Numbers the school gave at Tuesday=92s press conference put the gap at  

anywhere between five and 15 minutes, with administrators stressing  
their preliminary nature. The new numbers, Rounds said, came from a  
=93clear and verifiable audio and electronic record.=94

The third floor fire in the Jonsson-Rowland Science Center resulted in  

15 firefighters being sent to Samaritan Hospital after the department  

was concerned about chemicals that could be in the laboratory  
building, which was filled with heavy smoke. The school said the fire  

started by the ignition of cleaning alcohol, which then spread to  

A female undergraduate student was treated and released for a burn to  

her finger.

While the fire renewed the firefighters union=92s call for a so-called  

=93public safety fee=94 from the school to boost the number of  
firefighters serving the area, it also prompted the school to ask the  

state=92s Office of Fire Prevention and Control for an assessment of its 
emergency handling.

Some schools utilize a system in which alarms ring directly with local  

authorities, not campus ones. Rounds suggested Tuesday that RPI would  

be open to such a possibility after the assessment, which he said he  
hoped would involve the fire department as well.

But Garrett =97 who Rounds criticized for accusing the school of putting 
firefighters at risk =97 said he has yet to be approached about that by  

the school, or about anything else.

=93I=92ve never been contacted after the fire by Shirley Jackson at all 
inquire about the wellbeing of the firefighters that were injured, or  

improvements that could be made to her system,=94 Garrett said.

He said no other school representatives have contacted him either, but  

insisted that =93ultimately, the safety of the RPI students and  
community fall on the shoulders of Shirley Jackson.=94

Troy spokesman Jeff Pirro said the city is =93actively addressing the  

situation with RPI to rectify the concerns they have.=94

Dave Canfield can be reached at 270-1290 or by e-mail at

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