Frozen sprinkler head causes evacuation


Photo by: Shelby Clark

Students and faculty wait outside the University Center after a frozen sprinkler head causes a fire alarm.

Shelby Clark, Staff Writer

Students, student workers and foodservice professionals were forced to stand outside in the cold due to a frozen sprinkler head. 

A fire alarm went off in the University Center this afternoon around 12:30 p.m. Students, student workers and foodservice professionals evacuated the building immediately into the 28 degree winter air. 

Michael Natoli, executive chef for Sodexo, said it was Sodexo associates’ job to get all of the students out of the campus dining area. 

Natoli said he did not really know what was going on, but he said that Sodexo has a protocol that the foodservice professionals followed when the fire alarm went off. 

“Everybody’s here, everybody’s safe and we’re waiting to see what happens with the fire alarm,” Natoli said. “I’m not sure what the status is of the fire alarm, but we know when it goes off, got to get out of the building.” 

Student worker Emily Ezages, junior business administration major, said she was at work when the alarm went off. She said there was a smell by the Performance Center entrance. 

“I knew to get me and the rest of the students that I could see out of the building as soon as possible,” Ezages said. 

Elizabeth Harris, freshman environmental science and art major, said she was eating lunch when the fire alarms went off. 

“We kind of all just looked around at each other because we weren’t really sure what was happening,” Harris said. “Eventually, we just came outside.” 

“Nothing has really been said about what we are supposed to be doing right now,” Harris said. 

Bailey Patterson, a freshman psychology major, said he was in the fireside lounge when the alarm went off. 

“I got my stuff real quick, and hopped out like everybody else did,” Patterson said.  

Patterson said he did not know what to do, so he said he was waiting to see what he was supposed to do next. 

Officers from the Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s office came out and told everyone on the premises it was safe to reenter the University Center around 1 p.m.

Deputy Chad Gries said the fire alarm went off because a sprinkler head froze and busted by the door entering the Performance Center. He said the sprinkler was outside because a construction team is replacing the entrance doors.