Malfunction Trips GCC Alarms

On Sunday, February 21, many Reed community members were shocked to see an Instagram post from Bon Appetit about a pipe bursting at Commons, stopping service temporarily, and then service returning relatively quickly. As it turns out, the story is a little more complicated. Director of Facilities Operations Steve Yeadon spoke about the specific malfunction that caused the accident: “First of all, there was no pipe burst in GCC. It was a simple malfunction. [The] sprinkler system in GCC is two part. There’s a wet system, which consists of pipe that always has water in it… [and] then there’s a dry system. … Those are pipes that are charged with air, and if the fusible link gets hot and melts… all the air rushes out, which allows a clapper valve to open and flood the pipe with water, and then you get sprinkler water. [On February 21] what happened was the air compressor that provides the air pressure for the dry side of the pipe malfunctioned, and the pressure relieved off of the dry side, allowing the clapper to go open, which allowed water to flow, which is no big deal, because water wasn’t going to go anywhere, because none of the sprinkler heads were fusible links were melted. Subsequently, something happened with the… system that protects the city water, and that failed in conjunction… [the pipes] started leaking by a minor amount of water, and it never stopped, and so there was continual flow. Whenever you have continual flow, the system goes into alarm and causes an act of evacuation and all that good stuff. Nothing got damaged, water just ran on the floor in the mechanical room, but it took a while for our maintenance staff to get that remedied so that the water flow stopped and they could silence the alarm so people could come back in. … There was a little bit of water running on the floor in the mechanical room and going down the drain.”

Bon Appetit’s General Manager Matt Talavera had this to say regarding the alarms: “While I was not on campus that day, I am grateful that my two managers that were on campus dealt with the situation quite well. Gina Warenecke and our Sous Chef Suzanne Scalfaro did a wonderful job making sure we made adjustments to get folks fed. … As always, the safety of the Bon Appetit staff and the Reed community was our top priority. While staying in communication with Community Safety and Facilities, we were able to set up a food pick-up table outside of Commons for all food orders that were ready for pick-up. As soon as we were granted access to the building, our staff worked diligently and efficiently to re-open Commons for service. We opened back up at 1:30 p.m., and made the decision to stay open throughout the afternoon and into dinner service to allow the community more time to order food and beverages.”

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