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By D. Shayne Christie
Arizona Daily Wildcat
November 18, 1997

Student Union needs help despite recent improvements


Robert Henry Becker
Arizona Daily Wildcat

On the right side, an older pipe stops after extending from the wall about 2 feet. It had been rerouted (on the left side) to continue carrying water. Many of the metal pipes are now replaced with PVC pipes which are less expensive and don't corrode. This is a hallway that leads from the back staircase into the basement storage area.

When Deputy State Fire Marshal Ed Deschaines inspected the Memorial Student Union in March 1996 he found 104 violations of the fire code - from faulty grease traps to stray extension cords.

However, Deschaines found one violation during his most recent visit in June according to a state fire marshal's report.

The Student Union was brought up to code this year and is due for another inspection soon, said Herb Wagner, assistant director of risk management and safety.

One item still needs to be addressed: an inadequate sprinkler system.

"It is safe to say nothing above the basement (in the building) is sprinklered," Wagner said.

The basement was the only floor required to have sprinklers when the building was renovated in the 1960s.

Robert Henry Becker
Arizona Daily Wildcat

A metal water pipe extends from a cutout section of the wall and leads to a network of other corroded water pipes. A makeshift fiberglass roof and wooden palettes are a protection against water.


Because the 46-year-old Student Union was constructed 20 years before there were fire codes, the building can stay open without sprinklers under a grandfather clause, he said.

Wagner said the fire marshal could still close the Student Union, but is aware of plans to renovate it.

"I don't think he would come in and close it down," he said. "They know the reality of funding being a state agency."

The UA Space Committee allocated $100,000 this year to upgrade existing sprinkler systems in the Student Union and other facilities, Wagner said. He said, however, that more money would be needed to put sprinklers throughout the Student Union.

It would cost an estimated $1 million to properly install sprinklers in the building, Wagner said, in addition to the estimated $1.9 million to remove asbestos exposed in the process.

Wagner said the sprinklers will be added as a part of the Student Union renovations which he said, "for all intents and purposes will be implemented whether or not the referendum passes."

Students vote today and Wednesday whether to impose a $40 per semester fee on themselves to fund $31.5 million of the $70 million in proposed Memorial Student Union renovations.





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