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Perth campus rings in new year with waterworks

By: Dali Carmichael 

A flood swamped sections of Perth campus’ main building on New Years Eve, requiring first response teams from Algonquin and the Lanark County Fire Department to spend their holiday sopping up water.

Emergency crews immediately responded to an alarm that was set off in the main building around 7:40 p.m. on Dec. 31.

Tara-Lee Ferguson, an administrative officer at Perth campus, rushed to the scene after receiving a call from distressed caretaker Kenneth Ellsworth.

“Dear, you better come,” he said to Ferguson. “It’s pretty bad.”

The leak was caused by a broken pipe in the ceiling. Investigators are still determining the exact cause of the burst pipe, but Udo Friesen, manager of facilities operations and maintenance services team, believes it was caused by water freezing in the pipe.

“The sprinkler pipes are always full of water,” he said. “Water freezes, turns to ice, ice expands, breaks the pipe and that’s what happened.”

The leak started in the main foyer, and flowed through the the building until the water was shut off around 8:10 p.m.

“[It] went throughout the academic wing, so it went into each classroom down the hall,” said Ferguson.

The water trickled down the Brownlee’s Metro class corridor, before looping down the student services wing.

It leaked into the Learning Resources Center, as well as the access computer lab. Fortunately, the books were high enough that they avoided becoming waterlogged. The computers, while slightly sprinkled upon, were not damaged.

There was water damage on the ceiling and walls where the leak occurred. The cork floors of the LRC and the administrative offices were also destroyed. Ferguson recalls that during the clean-up period, the floors were so waterlogged that walking on them felt like, “walking on a waterbed.”

“Luckily, the flooring of the classrooms are linoleum. It’s welded down so water didn’t get in underneath.”

Clean-up operations began on New Years Eve and by the next day repairs had started. Algonquin staff were asked to stay off campus until Jan. 7, to allow repair crews to work quickly and efficiently, to have the building restored for the start of the new semester.

“It was amazing that everyone kind of banded together when normally we would be on holidays,” said Ferguson.

Colin Bonang, associate director of safety, security and emergency management for all of the college’s campuses, was one of the emergency response coordinators. He also had high praise for how the situation was handled.

“The college’s response was extremely effective,” said Bonang. “We managed to control the damage quickly. It was an excellent response.”

As of publication date the cost of the damage was not yet established, however it was estimated to be about $20,000.

 

 

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