By Keith Capstick
Sweat-drenched shirts, soggy jeans and uncomfortable seat-to-sweat ratios are the essence of every class in Kerr Hall. Now, the heat in the building may have caused a fire alarm.
According to security on site, the fire alarm in Kerr Hall was set off around noon on March 16 as a result of the building’s Heating Ventilation and Air-Conditioning system (HVAC) heat censor activating.
“Kerr Hall has many HVAC systems controlled by building automation. These systems are very large commercial HVAC systems that do not react quickly to changing outdoor conditions. This means that maintaining consistent temperatures during shoulder seasons (spring and fall) can be extremely challenging because of fluctuating outside temperatures,” said Kerri Bailey, manager of finance and strategic planning at Ryerson’s campus facilities and sustainability department, in an email.
Toronto Fire Services charges $410 per hour for trucks dispatched to respond to alarms, even those pulled by accident or without emergency. The incident on March 16 lasted an hour.
Campus facilities says it aims to keep all lecture halls at Ryerson between 21 and 24 degrees Celsius and that the systems installed control the temperature for entire buildings. To lower the temperature in a lecture hall they would also have to lower the temperature in a gym or computer lab that is also in the building.
“Kerr Hall has a number of labs, gyms, athletic areas, offices, classrooms and public spaces which are each just one component in a very complex system,” said Bailey in an email.
Students on campus feel the heat of Kerr Hall and are emphasizing the difficulty of dressing appropriately for outside and not being overheated in class.
“Kerr is really hot. The heat is especially bad now because everyone’s still dressed in winter clothes and it makes it just too warm,” said Victoria Reynolds, a thirdyear business management student.
Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) president Rajean Hoillet says that he’s heard complaints about the temperature in Kerr Hall.
“There hasn’t been any formal complaints, [but] I have heard students share information anecdotally,” Hoilett said.
Ryerson’s director of Integrated Risk Management, Julia Lewis, says that there would have had to be an extraneous circumstance for the heat detector to go off.
“The most likely scenario would involve maybe somebody using something like a torch, that’s the kind of heat we’re talking here,” said Lewis.
Since September the school has received 13 helpdesk complaints from students about the temperature of specific areas in Kerr Hall.