Teaneck, NJ – Equinox Online, By Samantha Snyder – Recent evacuations in University Courts four and five due to high concentrations of carbon monoxide have left students frustrated and uneasy, and have raised questions about the state of older residence halls.
Court five was the first to be evacuated. Students were removed from the residence hall at four thirty on the morning of Sept. 3. The problem occurred when a downstairs resident turned on the heater in section A. The carbon monoxide detector sounded an alarm, and was heard by a facilities worker on duty. Public Safety was notified and alerted the Teaneck Fire Department. When the fire department arrived, the levels of carbon monoxide in the building were at 120 parts per million (ppm). Government standards for indoor levels are less than 35 ppm for an hour’s exposure. Public Service Gas Company arrived to fix the problem, and students were temporarily relocated to the Student Union Building (SUB). After waiting for several hours in the SUB, the residents were then placed in Linden six. They were allowed to return to their rooms at four o’clock that afternoon.
Eight days later, on Sunday, Sept. 11, at three in the morning, the Residents Assistant (RA) in Court four called Public Safety to report that the carbon monoxide detector was activated. The Teaneck Fire Department again was notified, and students were evacuated. Levels were not as high as they had been in Court five this time at 70 ppm. Public Service Gas came to repair the problem. The flue pipes of the water heaters reportedly were rotted, allowing the noxious gas to escape into the building. The residents were relocated to Linden six, and remained there until Wednesday.
In both cases, the residents were falsely told several times they could return to their buildings. “At eight o’clock we were to go back inside,” said Leen Mahmoud, Resident Assistant of Court five. Officials then revised their statement, saying that it was still unsafe to go into the building. “If we had [gone inside] and gone to sleep, we could have died,” emphasized Mahmoud.
The University Courts and the Lindens are all going to be checked for any possible problems to avoid such incidents in the future. Though measures are being taken to protect students and prevent problems, the evacuations still have left a mark on those affected.