STARKVILLE, Miss.--Officials at Mississippi State University are on "high alert" over the next week, taking every precaution against the continuing record low temperatures.
In an abundance of caution to help the university avoid any additional water pipe damage like that incurred earlier this month at Ruby Hall, MSU's Crisis Action Team convened Thursday to review options to ensure the safety of students, faculty and staff and to protect university and personal properties.
Following an evaluation by the Crisis Action Team, MSU Vice President for Student Affairs Bill Kibler said that portions of some residence hall fire suppression water systems are being drained today in preparation for the single-digit freezing temperatures. Residence halls involved in that process are Oak, Magnolia, Ruby, Hurst, Griffis, North and Moseley.
Affected areas will include the top floors of those residence halls. Lower floors will maintain water in the fire suppression system pipes.
MSU Vice President for Student Affairs Bill Kibler said: "All safety measures to protect the university's students remain in place," including all fire alarm and heat detecting systems. Kibler said the decision to drain portions of the fire suppression system pipes as a hedge against further pipe damage was made in consultation with the Starkville Fire Department.
"In addition, 24-hour fire-watch procedures have been implemented in these residence halls to heighten fire safety for all residence hall students during this time," said Kibler. "We have staff working around the clock to personally monitor these facilities and that will continue until the fire suppression system is reengaged."
MSU Chief Communications Officer Sid Salter said that all fire suppression equipment damaged earlier this month had been repaired.
"In conjunction with our architects, engineers and other stakeholders, the university is continuing to evaluate the possible causes of the damage to our residence halls earlier this month," said Salter. "That process will be thorough and exhaustive. But the plan adopted today by the Crisis Action Team strikes the appropriate short-term balance between our dual responsibilities to both protect our students and protect the taxpayers' property."
Salter said that as in the case of the Jan. 7 single-digit temperatures: "These state-of-the-art fire suppression systems have never been subjected to temperatures this low in the life of these newer residence halls."
Temperatures are expected to fall below freezing today and remain at or below freezing until late Saturday morning. Also, another period of below-freezing temperatures will begin Monday afternoon [Jan. 27] and will last until mid-day Thursday [Jan. 30]. Nighttime lows are expected to be in the single digits.
Two weeks ago, Ruby Hall in Zacharias Village on the north side of campus, received damage when a fire suppression system water pipe on the third floor "B" wing ruptured. Approximately 120 students were impacted, with university officials locating alternate housing for those returning for the spring semester. Lesser damage from the same type of systems was reported in Oak and Magnolia halls.
Kibler urged students to take appropriate precautions when traveling to and from campus. He also reminded organizations and departments with planned activities to take into consideration the current weather conditions.
"Every person is encouraged to monitor their local media outlets since the conditions are unpredictable and can change," Kibler said.