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NDSU still working to resolve fire safety violations

FARGO—North Dakota State University still is working to come into full compliance with fire safety codes following city inspections that found improper storage of hazardous chemicals in two laboratory buildings.

University officials were notified of fire safety violations in early June, when Fire Marshal Ryan Erickson wrote a letter informing NDSU administrators that they had to take immediate action to come into compliance.

In a follow-up inspection July 13, a fire inspector noted some violations have been addressed, but still found fire safety risks in Dunbar and Ladd halls, which house chemistry and biochemistry labs.

"Several of the items in the reports were corrected," Erickson said. "There were a few items that they're working to continue to have progress on."

In Dunbar Hall, the fire inspector still found hazardous chemicals were being improperly stored in a building without fire suppression sprinklers.

But the inspector found that many violations had been corrected, including a blocked fire extinguisher, the use of extension cords, damaged electrical cords, "daisy-chained" power strips and storage and labeling of chemicals.

"It is apparent that effort is being directed toward fire safety and gaining code compliance in these areas," Jamie Garvey, the fire inspector, wrote in his report.

In Ladd Hall, the inspector noted the city is still waiting for an accepted hazardous materials management plan and hazardous materials inventory statement to become available.

"We're looking to get a plan and an inventory," Erickson said. "All of those things are in progress."

Bret Mayo, NDSU's associate director of environmental safety, said the university will be in full compliance by the time of the next inspection, which will be about 30 days after the July 13 inspection.

NDSU is moving porphyric chemicals, which can spontaneously combust and often are corrosive, to state-of-the-art laboratories in Research II at the campus' research park.

"Just gorgeous labs up there," Mayo said. "It's just easier to take the porphyric chemicals and move them," than to try to retrofit labs, which is prohibitively expensive, he said.

In some cases, NDSU was cited for storing empty chemical containers. Even empty, they posed a violation. Those containers have since been disposed of, Mayo said.

"By the time of the next inspection we'll be within the parameters that have been given us," he said.

Patrick Springer

Patrick Springer first joined the reporting staff of The Forum in 1985. He can be reached by calling 701-241-5522. Have a comment to share about a story? Letters to the editor should include author’s name, address and phone number. Generally, letters should be no longer than 250 words. All letters are subject to editing. Send to

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