MU looks to replace faulty fire sprinkler heads

Friday, October 16, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — After sprinkler heads destroyed some State Historical Society of Missouri documents, MU is in the process of replacing similar heads in the building.

MU identified 21 additional sprinkler heads that were the same type as the faulty head in the State Historical Society and will replace them by an unspecified date, according to a Columbia Fire Department news release.

A fire sprinkler head activated between 5 and 5:30 p.m. Sept. 30, said Gary Kremer, executive director of the State Historical Society, which is located on the ground floor of Ellis Library. Kremer said no one-of-a-kind documents were ruined. Some original documents were destroyed, but all of them had other original copies.

The fire sprinkler head was a specialty head that had been manufactured by SimplexGrinnell in the mid-1970s, when the company was called Grinnell. Fire sprinkler heads are designed to activate when exposed to excessive heat and to shut off when the heat has dissipated.

Independent testing labs have shown that accidental activation of fire sprinkler heads is rare and happens in only one out of every 16 million heads, according to the Fire Department news release.

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Ellis Smith October 16, 2009 | 6:23 a.m.

1-What is the manufacturer's stated life for these sprinklers? What maintenance if any is specified? Are the sprinklers supposed to be replaced at some point in time?

2- University of Missouri System consists of four campuses, not just one campus. What is the state of the sprinkler systems at the other three campuses? Keep in mind that while Ellis Library may be the largest library in the system (Linda Hall Library at UMKC is quite extensive) we need to be concerned about people as well as books and papers, and that the combined enrollments of the Kansas City, Rolla and St. Louis campuses now represent about 55% of the system's students.

3-This looks like a situation which should have system oversight, not just campus oversight.

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