Advertise - Print Edition

Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Pipe bursts in Rosenthal East over break, nothing harmed

Published: January 16, 2009
Section: News

All Rosenthal East suites suffered minor water damage on Saturday, Jan. 3, when a main pipe burst in the building’s fourth floor stairwell and triggered the sprinkler system and fire alarm, according to a police log from that day.

Pressure incurred from an open window in the stairwell may be to blame for the bursting of the four inch pipe, according to Interim Co-Director of Residence Life Jeremy Leiferman.

Near-freezing temperatures in the days leading up to the incident and the subsequent thawing exacerbated pressure on the pipe and caused it to burst, which in turn activated the sprinkler system.

The system, which is tied to the fire alarm, monitors water pressure in the pipes and activates the sprinklers when that pressure changes, Leiferman said. A police log shows the sprinkler system triggering the fire alarm at 11:03 a.m., immediately notifying campus police.

Because of the nature of the Rosenthal building, Leiferman explained, a fair amount of water damage was prevented and any damage incurred was minor.

“There isn’t a lot of ability for water to travel through the floor or in turn through the ceiling; it’s pretty tightly sealed,” he said.

Instead, water traveled down the stairs and seeped under the door and into the common rooms of every suite in the building. Most bedrooms were not affected by the leaking, with only 16 bedrooms having minor water damage, according to a police log.

Three public safety officers were the first to respond to the call, and a third party cleanup company, Service Master, arrived within hours of the incident.

Residents of Rosenthal East were notified of the incident the day of the leak via an email sent by Community Development Coordinator for Rosenthal and Castle Quads Ashley Skipwith.

In an email to the Hoot, Skipwith said she initially received a few general questions about the status of the building, but since she originally notified the residents, no students have contacted her about specific damages to their property.

Rosenthal East resident Leah Lehrer ’11 said she returned to her suite to find some water damage to some of her books.

When Julia Rabkin ’11 initially heard about the leaking, she was concerned because of her top floor room’s proximity to the broken pipe. She said that in the email residents received, “the situation itself wasn’t explained that well but they did explain the steps they were taking to take care of it.”

Members of Residence Life surveyed each room to assess the damage, picking up any clothes or bedding that might have been damaged and sent it out to be dry-cleaned, Leiferman said. All linens and clothes were returned to residents’ rooms within the next week and the university paid for all laundry expenses.

Cleanup workers first extracted water from and then treated carpets in the residence hall to prevent mold. The crews then used dehumidifiers to take the moisture out of the air and carpets. Because of this dehumidification, the air in the building is now dry and students might experience “crunchy” floors upon their return to campus, Leiferman said.

Rabkin found no damage to her belongings but she and one of her suitemates, David Park ’11, found the rug they kept in their common room gone. The two assume the rug was removed to be cleaned after water damage.

Rosenthal East Community Advisor Anum Irfan Khan ‘09, who had no damage to her personal belongings, explained that restoration workers moved around furniture to ease cleanup and said that so far none of her residents have expressed any concern with damaged property.

Cleanup was completed the following Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. in time for residents to move back in Sunday.