Fire alarms in Conway Hall triggered by excess steam


Brielle McLearen

On Jan. 28 a steam trap failed to open. This caused steam to go through the vents in the hall, filling up the building with steam and setting off the Conway fire alarms.

Sophia Sailer, Editor-in-Chief

The blaring sound of a fire alarm is something that many students living in The Quad have grown accustomed to, but this time Conway Hall had to evacuate.

On Jan. 28 a steam trap (which releases condensate and non-condensable gases without letting steam escape) failed to open. This caused steam to go through the vents in the hall, filling up the building with steam.

John Zimmerman, the Plant Maintenance Engineer at Winona State University, said that this issue happens semi regularly and is not something to worry about.

“The issue was that this was a lot of steam for a small building which compounded the problem, but most of the time people don’t even notice that it’s happening. We know it’s happening, but it’s usually unnoticeable,” Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman continued, saying that Conway Hall is specifically a building that can be vulnerable to these types of situations because of how old it is.

“This happens every other year, most of the time we find out before it gets to the point of setting off the fire alarm,” Zimmerman said.

Jordan Becvar, a third-year student studying psychology and resident of Conway Hall, talked about the feeling she gets every time the alarm goes off.

“I think it’s just the thought that they could happen at any time, and we don’t know when they are that’s a little annoying. I know East Lake gets to know when their fire drills are happening, but since I’ve been in the Quad, we don’t get any notification, so it’s definitely like an on edge feeling just in the back of my mind,” Becvar said.

Becvar continued, saying for fire drills specifically, it is crucial for students to know when they are in the winter due to the chance they could be in the shower.

“I know whenever I walk to the shower, I literally beg the fire alarm to not go off. It would scare the crap out of me if I had to be outside with just a bathrobe in the winter,” Becvar said.

Zimmerman explained the possibilities of another fire scare, saying anything can always happen.

“There is always the potential of something going wrong, hopefully we will catch the problem before it happens,” Zimmerman said.

“The Winona Fire Department recommends a smoke detector be placed on every level of your home to ensure the earliest possible warning in the event of a fire. In order to be effective, smoke detectors must be installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions, they must be tested monthly, and batteries changed annually,” the city of Winona states on their website.