A fire safety violation has been discovered in the stairwell of 6 East High Street, the home of Ric Edelman College of Communication & Creative Arts. The building was previously home to The Whit and hosts several faculty offices. During the inspection, state fire marshals wanted the stairwell area enclosed as there was a project to work on enclosing the area.
In the final inspection, the fire marshall said that there were items that were still needed to complete the punch list, which is a document used in construction and other industries to track and manage the remaining tasks or items that need to be completed or corrected before a project can be considered finished or officially closed.
The fire marshals wanted the stairwell to have verification that the doors were fire-rated doors, that emergency lights and exit signs were put in place, and mounting a fire extinguisher to the wall that was sitting on the floor. A fire-rated door is a door that is specialized to resist the spread of fire and smoke in a building for a specific period of time. This can help prevent the rapid spread of fire and smoke from one part of the building to another.
Egress is the availability of safe exit routes in buildings to ensure that occupants can quickly and safely leave in the event of an emergency. In order to put in the doors to create an enclosed stairway for egress, additional signs were required to be up. It wasn’t until the doors were put up that additional signs were needed. With the new doors being there, the exit sign was no longer visible behind the door.
The landlord is responsible for fixing all of these issues, not Rowan University but it is a lengthy process. The current landlord of the building is Land Dimensions, an Interdisciplinary land-use design company based in Glassboro, NJ. The president and owner of Land Dimension is Larry Divetro, who is also on the Rowan University Tech Park board of trustees. The Whit reached out for comment, but did not receive a response.
“The landlord has to go to the local municipalities to get permits and get plans made up, get permits, get plans approved, all of those things,” said Joe Campbell, president of facilities planning and operations. “And then when they get the permits, then they have to do the construction. When they do the construction and it’s done, then they have the inspections that come through. And so this is like the final punch list of the inspection.”
“The building has been deemed okay to occupy it by the state fire marshall,” said Brian Ewan, assistant vice president of facilities operations. “He just said, now that you did the work that we asked you to do, we want you to do some additional work.”
If the building does get shut down, plans are already in place for where staff would be relocated, which is in the temporary offices in Rowan Triad Apartments. Campbell states that the changes that were asked for were made as quickly as possible with changes that needed to be made by the landlord, not the school.
“So I would say that the landlord has made these changes,” said Campbell. “We always would like things to be done faster than people do them, but there’s reasons why they can’t move any faster. It could be a supply chain issue. It could be that they’re waiting to get permits. It could be because they’re getting plans reviewed by the municipality and they’re waiting for that to get done. It could be because an inspector they’re waiting on. We always would like to see things done faster than they get done.”
Even though the building failed code, it is still occupied. Standford Tweedie, Dean of Ric Edelman College of Communication & Creative Arts, said that it does not feel unsafe.
“I’ve been aware that there are concerns. I’ve never felt unsafe in here,” said Tweedie. “No one’s come to me and said, I need to be out of this building.”
According to Ewan. the state fire marshal visited the building for a reinspection with the Borough’s building inspector also attending. Both were satisfied and agreed to abate the violations.
Some additional paperwork was required from the borough to the state to officially close out the violations in their system. The borough staff needed to complete the paperwork and submit it to the property owner once finished. Then it will be sent over to the state to officially close out the outstanding paperwork.