Last spring, University Facilities and Services decided to scale back its original ambitions to install an upgraded fire protection system in seven residences. After reevaluating practical concerns of cost and labor, Facilities set a lesser objective of installing the project’s sprinklers and fire alarms in only Susan B. Anthony Halls and three Hill Court residences. Preliminary work that connects the water supply of the three remaining Hill Court buildings has finished this summer, though, and full installation in the rest of Hill Court will resume next summer.

Three years ago, the University embarked on its plan to update fire safety in all residential areas. Director of Planning and Project Management Wayne Goodwin said the new fire safety protections will extend above and beyond basic fire safety code. UR’s plans have received full approval of a fire marshal.

The Fraternity Quad was the first area completed in this long-term project because its structure puts this area at a higher risk of damage in a fire.

Goodwin described the factors beyond University control that affected summer plans for Hill Court. The city of Rochester experienced a rushed demand for construction during the summer months a time slot that both local public schools and universities share for major construction. This summer, there happened to be a spike in high school projects due to increased state aid for schools’ efficiency work. UR felt the consequences of a busy summer of building because it competes for the same contractors and labor pool. Goodwin explained that this information had not been available to his office until early spring, when he and other staff realized there would be insufficient labor supply to realize their original designs for Hill Court.

‘One of the issues we got into is the amount of manpower and time we have to do the work in. Clearly we can’t do the work when the buildings are occupied,” Goodwin said.
In response, Facilities dedicated the limited labor in the Rochester area to complete Susan B. Anthony and Hill Court buildings Chambers House, Slater House and Munro House. The rest of Hill Court, which includes Kendrick House, Fairchild House and Gale House, will remain unfinished until the summer of 2009. Next year, Facilities also plans to install both new sprinklers and fire alarms in buildings on the Residential Quad.
The work in Susan B. Anthony wrapped up shortly before students arrived for Freshman Orientation. Goodwin attributed the late deadline to the short supply of laborers.

The high level of construction in the building required Residential Life to forestall additional work in Susan B. Anthony until next summer, according to Residential Life Area Manager Mark Miller. This work includes the replacement of floor tiles on two floors and the carpet in lounge areas.

Goodwin described Facilities’ efforts in overcoming obstacles in securing sufficient workers for the fire safety upgrades. UR even extended its search past Rochester’s immediate boundaries.

‘We kept all local folks doing labor in the Rochester area busy. They were so busy that we actually supplemented that [manpower] with some additional labor from outside the Rochester area, and other areas of New York State,” Goodwin said.

The completion of the new University Health Service building and smaller maintenance projects were not affected by the difficulties that were faced with the residential fire system upgrades. Smaller summer updates included replacing the locks in Gale, a regular summer project in dormitories for the past few years, and paint touch-ups in several buildings.

The University Health Service building, facing no restrictive timeline, opened for staff in late July after one year of construction. The budget for the project exceeded $11 million, and the building itself was designed with the idea of fostering sustainability, according to Goodwin. Designed to perform 15 percent more efficiently than standard buildings in energy performance, some of its features include interior lighting almost entirely controlled by occupancy-sensor lights and a landscaping using only local plants that require no irrigation.

The building’s materials and products all contain at least some percentage of recycled materials and its new plumbing designs are expected to conserve more water than conventional fixtures.

Leber is a member of the class of 2011.

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