State Rep. David Woodward (D-Royal Oak) recently introduced a bill that would require all colleges and universities in the state of Michigan to install sprinkler systems in their residence halls. While such a measure would necessitate a substantial monetary investment by Michigan”s universities, to save just one student”s life would make it well worth the cost.
Currently, not all of the University”s residence halls are fully outfitted with sprinklers. Some recently renovated areas such as the top floor of South Quad Residence Hall have complete sprinkler systems, but in most other halls sprinklers are found only near laundry rooms and other high-risk areas. Few, if any, are located in students” rooms or in their hallways.
According to University Facilities and Operations spokeswoman Diane Brown, installing sprinklers in older residence halls (those built before 1968) would be particularly costly because it would require extra renovations. University Vice President for Government Relations Cynthia Wilbanks said more information is needed before the University decides whether or not to support the bill.
High costs are not reason enough for the University to oppose this bill. A fire in a residence hall unequipped with sprinklers that killed three students at Seton Hall University last year shows the danger of not taking adequate protective measures in college residences. If installing complete sprinklers will make living in the residence halls safer for students, they should be installed regardless of the price. Although injuries from residence hall fires are rare, having a protective system in place would increase student safety. The University should support Woodward”s bill and the state legislature should pass it.