Fire service to inspect outdated signs on campus
Signs disappear after questions about fire safety are raised
By Thea Catipon
Outdated signs with floor maps potentially in breach of the fire code have been removed from Langara College walls.
The signs came to the attention of students when Jackson Belec, a second-year geography student, shared a post in February on Reddit showcasing inaccurate signs and maps around campus.
The signs had apparently not kept up with updates to campus buildings.
“If there’s issues with vision, and there’s issues of navigation, having a floor plan that is not accurate, could pose issues in the event of an emergency,” said Belec.
Several days after the Voice reported on the story online, the signs had disappeared.
Langara facilities department has not responded to questions from the Voice about the fate of the signs.
There haven’t been any complaints to the facilities department regarding the signs, said Langara facilities director Dwayne Doornbosch, who noted that changes to campus signs are continuously being made.
An inspector assigned to campus
Failing to update emergency signs and maps when building layout changes can create a risk, especially in an emergency, said Matthew Trudeau, captain of public information for Vancouver Fire Rescue Service.
He said the service has assigned a fire inspector to the campus but no recent inspections have been done.
Upgrading signs on a building is not mandatory but it is a responsibility of building owners because buildings are constantly changing, said Peg McAndrews, a business development manager for Vancouver Fire and Radius Security.
Changes should be made to the fire plans if the renovations would change the “footprint” or the escape plan for the building’s occupants, she said.
McAndrews said that these plans should display how people can access the emergency exits, fire extinguishers or hoses, and how to call the fire department.
But students might not refer to posted signs and maps in the event of an emergency.
“Very often, what actually happens is people leave the building the same way they enter it,” Wiesner said.
Some departments have their own emergency plan in place. For instance, students of Studio 58 say that they were told to go to the loading dock in case an emergency takes place.
“I honestly feel like in my survival instincts I just find the closest door to me and just leave,” Gabby Friedman, a first year production student. said.
Signs are not the only problem when it comes to fire safety
In his Reddit post, Belec also said the emergency exit at the end of the psychology offices’ hallway on the second floor of the C Building is being blocked by a door.
Felix Wiesner, an expert in fire structural safety and an assistant professor at UBC, said blocking access is a problem.
“Generally, any sort of routes that are designated for emergencies should be kept clear and unobstructed,” he said.