Maintenance Problems at UCI

For those who have not ridden the elevators of the Humanities Instructional Building, their walls have the date of expired permits anonymously circled in purple marker with a “WTF?!” memo next to it. However, they are not the only elevators with expired permits on campus.

According to an “Orange County Register” article,  “19 buildings at UC Irvine have fire alarm and suppression systems that are obsolete or deficient.” The number cited is taken from a capital improvement report submitted to the University of California’s Board of Regents in November 2009.

Additionally, the report highlights replacements and/or renovations to Mesa Court, Middle Earth, two health sciences buildings, Biological Sciences Greenhouse, Verano Place, Humanities and Social Sciences classrooms and science buildings for research.  The estimated cost of all of these repairs is about $149 million.

The expired elevators are not included in this estimate.  There are no budget or safety concerns regarding the expired permits according to David Moran, manager of the Elevator Program.

“Our highest priority is always safety first … although the state inspectors are running behind schedule this year, we expect them on campus very soon,” Moran said.

According to Moran, the elevators that have expired permits from  a few years back are most likely  the result of someone pulling the more recent ones out.

“If the elevators were not fit for use the state would shut us down,” Moran said.

Marc Gomez, Interim Assistant Vice Chancellor of  Environmental Health & Safety/Facilities Management, noted that maintaining a campus this big requires a continuous effort.

Gomez recognizes the need to replace the fire alarm systems right away and in addition to an emphasis on a continuous testing of these systems as well as the prioritized list they are set on.

Over the last four years, four buildings’ fire alarm systems were upgraded and the other 15 that need improvement are still functional even though they may not be as up-to-date or ‘smart’ as the newer systems according to Gomez.

Gomez reveals that when they take into account the $8 million “Center for Awareness, Reflection and Meditation” Chancellor Michael Drake wishes to build for UCI in the next few years, campus maintenance seems low on the prioritized list.

On the contrary, Gomez noted that, “I believe the systems are being replaced reasonably … when money is found, things get fixed.”

Campus Fire Marshal Scott Jackson regards UCI as the most proactive institution he has ever worked for with the most dedicated fire prevention group of his experience with three universities.

As for deteriorating buildings such as Verano Unit 4, Gomez stated that the decision to reconstruct rather than renovate the structure would be the best approach.