Fire Sprinkler Floods Next; Students Without Insurance May Face Loss

A sprinkler went off in Next House late on the night of Saturday, April 5, flooding portions of one hall.

Director of Housing Dennis Collins said that “no one is sure” what triggered the sprinklers. Collins said that he first received reports of the incident at 11:45 p.m. The Cambridge Fire Department and MIT housing office staff, including a mechanic and night security guards, responded to the incident, Collins said.

The sprinkler went off in a room on the fourth floor for about 15 minutes, and water leaked down onto lower floors, Collins said. Next House residents were evacuated, and most of them stayed in New House. Residents returned about an hour later, Collins said.

According to Collins, MIT Housing has not yet assessed the water damage, but MIT’s insurance company has received preliminary information about the incident. Collins said that the insurance company only covers the physical space, including “ceiling, walls, floors and windows.” Students should have their own insurance to pay for damaged personal property, Collins said.

One of the students whose room was affected was assigned to one of the “couple of rooms set aside for emergency” in New House for the night. Collins said that two students affected now live in temporary rooms in Next House and might live in the temporary rooms until the end of the semester.

Third floor resident Mark J. Yen ’11, who is also a Tech production staffer, said that the “only flooding was in the closet, but not in other parts of the room.” Other residents described worse water damage, which he had not seen, he said. Yen said that he returned from taekwondo practice at the University of Pennsylvania at 3 a.m. and didn’t realize what had happened until people came to his room to clean up later in the morning.

Sprinklers rarely go off by accident, Collins said. He said that he recalls only about three different occasions of accidental flooding in the past ten years. Sprinklers last caused property damage in Sept. 2006 at East Campus, when a student tradition involving setting a table on fire with alcohol went awry.