Shortly before noon Friday, Wireman Hall residents rushed out of the building to the sounds of fire alarms buzzing around the building. The fire department arrived to find no fire, instead discovering the alarms were set off by a freon leak from an air conditioning unit, said Amber Perrell, associate dean of students and residence life, in a Friday afternoon interview.
Perrell said that rather than pushing out air, the unit expelled freon in a manner that appeared to be smoke, setting off the alarms.
The fire department assessed the situation and determined “a circuit in the A/C unit had failed, although 3 of the unit’s 4 circuits are still working as they should,” Perrell said in a later email to Wireman residents.
She added that the circuit causing the problem was disabled and will be fixed next week.
Perrell said in the Friday interview that freon poses no danger to students unless “you stood there and huffed it in.” Despite that, staff erred on the side of caution and gave the building about 20 minutes to air out before allowing students back in, she said. Students were outside for a total of about 45 to 50 minutes, according to Perrell.
As far as Perrell is aware, maintenance is actively looking into this and the problem has been resolved. This is the second freon leak on campus in the last two weeks, with the other one occurring outside of Rogers Health and Science Building on October 18.
Eliza Wireback contributed to this story.