In Case of an Emergency

By Yuqiao Wang (ChE ‘19)

Professor Savizky was recently appointed as the Safety Director of The Cooper Union and The Pioneer sat with him to discuss the safety and evacuation procedures.

When asked about the evacuation procedures in the event of an emergency, Professor Savizky said “it’s impractical to use the empty field in front of NAB or Cooper Square due to insufficient capacity to accommodate everyone.” As of now, in the event of a localized emergency students may be asked to move to another Cooper building like the Foundation Building to 41 Cooper Square. In the event of a campus-wide emergency, students may be asked to relocate to Washington Square Park. In the case of a fire, people in 41 Cooper would primarily assemble at St. Mark’s Place between Cooper Square and 2nd Avenue, and, if necessary, assemble  at East 5th Street between Bowery and 2nd Avenue. In some emergency situations, like an active shooting, people are asked to stay in place.

As of now, it takes all the people in 41 Cooper about five to six minutes to evacuate which according to Professor Savizky is “not quite fast, but fairly swift enough given that we don’t have sufficient open field.” The fire drills are meant to be unannounced so planning is kept to a minimum. The administration wants them to be at a time when the majority of the students would be in the building, for example in the middle of the morning or afternoon.

In terms of security of the building, Professor Savizky commented that all the windows, doors and the outer wall of the new academic building are simply ground glass, not bulletproof. This can be a major risk when an active shooter is around; replacing all the ordinary ground glass with bulletproof glass is neither economically nor technically feasible.

The smoke detector, carbon monoxide detector, thermal sensor and the firehose are all normally functioning. During the fire drills there have been some issues with audio and strobe lights not working properly, but these issues are being resolved. In general, the evacuation times are good, but “there is always room for improvement!”

At the moment, Professor Savizky is working with the administration, Buildings and Grounds staff, and Terry Collander the deputy fire safety director, to update the “What to do in an Emergency” pamphlet. The current version of the pamphlet is available at the front desk and a comprehensive, campus-wide distribution of the modified brochure will be available in the near future. There are plans to create a Campus Safety Advisory Committee, primarily led by the safety director. This committee is expected to include faculty, staff, and students and will review and improve the current campus security policies and procedures. In a few weeks, the Crime Prevention Officer from the 9th Precinct will be reassessing the sufficiency and placement of our security cameras.

As a closing comment, Professor Savizky said “I think as students you should be able to perform your duties in a safe environment. We have a network of hardworking people at Cooper who make that happen like President Sparks, Keith Stokeld, deans, technicians, and buildings and grounds personnel. Of course, being a good Samaritan can help—to quote Homeland Security, if you see something, say something!” ◊

Leave a Reply