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Michigan State UniversityMichigan State UniversityInfrastructure Planning and Facilities
Water and foam from putting out fire in Recycling Center warehouse.

Water and foam from putting out fire in Recycling Center warehouse.

IPF keeps campus running during multiple April events


May 6, 2016

Who will keep Michigan State University operating? Infrastructure Planning and Facilities will.

Michigan State University (MSU) experienced four major, diverse events during the month of April – a chemical spill at the power plant, a fire at the Recycling and Surplus Store, a campus-wide power outage and a chemical spill at Munn Ice Arena. While none of these events were connected, it put Infrastructure Planning and Facilities (IPF) staff to the test while campus waited patiently.

Through service excellence, innovation and stewardship, IPF is responsible for building and maintaining the physical environment of MSU. IPF employees responded quickly to each emergency as a priority situation to restore university operations as fast as possible.

“This was truly a team effort,” said Dan Bollman, associate vice president of IPF. “Whether staff were directly involved with these issues or continued to do their job while others were handling the emergencies, each and every IPF member contributed to the outstanding performance exhibited by IPF.”

April 5, employees at the T.B. Simon Power Plant noticed the sulfuric acid tank decreasing by large amounts. Staff members quickly identified the source of the 800-gallon leak and immediately activated the emergency response procedure, contacting the health department, MSU Environmental Health and Safety and fire department. Non-essential building employees were evacuated while control room staff maintained plant operations from a secure location. In emergency situations such as this, all staff that remain in the building have planned escape routes in case the situation escalates, which was unnecessary in this case.

“I think the events can be used as a learning experience,” said Andy Smith, occupational safety compliance officer for IPF.

Smith is working with MSU Environmental Health and Safety to analyze the incident and ensure that IPF continues to work in a coordinated approach in the event of an emergency.

April 6, the MSU Recycling and Surplus Store experienced a fire between 9 and 10 a.m. Sparks from a contractor’s welding hit nearby materials, including grease and oil from conveyer belts. IPF employees responded immediately by using a fire extinguisher but were unable to contain the fire. Employees following emergency procedures went into action, sounding the fire alarm, calling 9-1-1 and evacuating employees.

“Across the board, MSU and IPF (employees) stepped up a lot to help us get on our feet again,” said Bob Bryan, operations supervisor III, Recycling.

Once the building was safe for staff members to return to, IPF employees worked day and night overseeing the cleanup of the building. As a result of IPF employees following emergency procedures, everything from the evacuation to cleanup went very smooth. The Surplus Store reopened two days later. As for the smoke damage, all of the ceiling tiles in the building have been replaced and a temporary conveyer belt is being used until the new one arrives.

April 7, MSU experienced a campus-wide power outage. The power plant experienced a failure in a circuit splice, which triggered a series of events within the power plant. Because of the lack of power capacity and steam, the plant was required to “shed” campus load to protect itself.

“IPF employees reacted quickly with this, and if they hadn’t, it would’ve been a lot worse,” said Stacy Nurenberg, maintenance services assistant manager, IPF.

All IPF employees went into “emergency mode;” key personnel at the main IPF building gathered in the emergency command center to communicate with the power plant staff to resolve the issue. Power was restored to campus within 1.5 hours. The power outage is currently being analyzed for future prevention.

April 28, Munn Ice Arena experienced an ammonia spill while employees were melting the ice during annual maintenance. Ammonia is used in the arena to make and cool the ice. Sensors went off at 1:10 p.m., triggering the warning alarm and notifying 9-1-1. The six building employees were evacuated safely, following warning protocol procedures. The source of the leak was in a seal and was quickly isolated.

“We gave East Lansing Fire Department a tour of the building a while back, so they were familiar. Our good pre-planning gave us a good plan of attack,” said Smith.

These events did not go unnoticed in the MSU community, with many light-hearted social media posts to keep the mood upbeat.

“I’ve heard from the MSU police more this week than I’ve heard from my mom!,” tweeted Kendall Huizenga, MSU sophomore.

IPF is composed of numerous professionals with specialized areas of expertise to ensure the best stewardship for MSU’s campus. In all four April events, IPF quickly enabled MSU to resume normal operations.

Who will keep the Spartan campus operating? IPF will.