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King’s finally meets fire code

The interim facilities director at the University of King’s College can breathe a sigh of relief now that the fire code has been met, following two years of upgrading the institutions’ residences.

Photo: Tari Wilson

The interim facilities director at the University of King’s College can breathe a sigh of relief now that the fire code has been met, following two years of upgrading the institutions’ residences.
Gerald Wilson says King’s has been out of compliance since 1988.
In 2010, the city took the university to court because of fire code violations. King’s was ordered to have all the changes for fire code compliance completed within two years.
Fire safety doors were put in place as well as new fire exits in residences. A new fire exit was built for the Wardroom pub and canteen located in the basement. In addition, residence rooms were given new fire detectors and self-closing doors.
A consultant from a Dartmouth-based fire protection engineering service checked up on King’s fire code compliance progress every three months. All of the changes were finished by Sept. 24, and the consultant sent a final report to the Halifax Regional Municipality fire prevention division.

King’s expenditures on upgrading its facilities to meet the fire code:

2010/11 $99,436
2011/12 $279,652
2012/13
(to date)
$278,730
Total $657,818

“Well, the good news is that it’s all been completed,” said Jim Fitzpatrick, interim controller for King’s. “The university was found to be in non-compliance with a lot of fire regulations and fire codes, and it needed to be compliant. Simple as that.”
Dan Hamer, the HRM university fire inspector, dealt with King’s as the school was brought up to code.
“Really, when a fire inspector comes in the problems found should be zero, as the university should be self-governing and maintaining fire codes,” said Hamer.
The years of violation and deferral is what separated King’s from other universities and Hamer says he’ll return in 2013 to check that King’s is still in compliance.
“We’ve caught up is the best way to put it and now we have to keep an eye on things,” said Fitzpatrick.
King’s facilities management employees still have projects awaiting renovations that need to meet fire codes. Wilson says the King’s basement theatre, the President’s Lodge and the fire exit from the chapel have yet to be completed. Wilson has allowed King’s to have a temporary fire exit on the chapel until the school can afford to upgrade it, a decision proposed by RICAS Fire Protection Engineering and King’s. Hamer, the fire inspector, says he tried to work with schools and be reasonable about how quickly things can get done.
“Money rules,” said Wilson of the limited funds available to make these changes.
Fitzpatrick began working at King’s five months ago and he says the total amount King’s spent making the upgrades over the past two years exceeds $657,000 (see totals listed above).
“It’s obviously been a substantial amount, hundreds of thousands of dollars,” said Fitzpatrick.

By David J. Shuman

David is a second-year journalism student at King's, is engagement/news editor of The Watch, and a copy editor of The Pigeon. He writes on student politics, campus happenings, and school news. 

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