On Tuesday, Oct. 22, a small fire occurred in the Tigerâ€™s Den. No people were in the Tigerâ€™s Den at the time. The fire was the result of a malfunction with a high voltage electrical panel in the mechanical room adjacent to the bar.
The mechanical room does not have sprinklers, although the remainder of the Tigerâ€™s Den does. When a fire starts, a piece of plastic in the sprinkler head melts, signaling a release of water. According to Ivan Pendergast, safety specialist in the Department of Environmental Health and Safety, sprinklers will not always completely put out a fire but can help contain it.
A Â slight odor still permeates the Tigerâ€™s Den. Pendergast attributed putting the fire out to two men: Johnny PeÃ±a, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning technician, and Martin Chapa, electrician.
â€œThese two men have saved the university a lot of money with their quick response,â€ Pendergast said.
The university uses a building automation system called Automated Logic to monitor air handling units across campus. An air handling unit is located inside the Tigerâ€™s Den mechanical room in addition to other areas of campus. Automated Logic alerted PeÃ±a to an error and he went to the Tigerâ€™s Den to investigate.
â€œI went to the mechanical room to troubleshoot,â€ PeÃ±a said. â€œThen I got in contact with Chapa when I realized we needed an electrician.â€
When Chapa came to Tigerâ€™s Den to meet with PeÃ±a, he opened the door to the mechanical room and the electrical panel caught fire. The pair turned off the breaker that feeds the wing. The overheated electrical panel, according to PeÃ±a and Chapa, was bound to catch fire eventually. Coincidentally, it caught fire when the door to the mechanical room was opened.
â€œIt was going to catch fire at some point,â€ Chapa said. â€œIt really was only a matter of time and it was fortunate that we were in the Tigerâ€™s Den when it did.â€
Two fire extinguishers were used to quell the flames, which were contained within the mechanical room. Pendergast said this was fast and necessary action on the part of Chapa and PeÃ±a. He also said that when there is smoke, these kinds of fire still leave a â€œnasty soot.â€
â€œWe spend a significant amount of time stressing drills and how people can safely evacuate when a fire happens,â€ Pendergast said. â€œThere is some fire extinguisher training periodically on the Esplanade or with RA training.â€
Pendergast said that the university holds personal safety above all else.
â€œIt is far easier to replace a building and material objects than to replace a human being,â€ Pendergast said.
Students, faculty and staff were evacuated as a precaution from Campus Publications and Campus and Community Involvement. They were allowed to return to those locations shortly afterwards.