Dover Middle Schools alarm systems are failing regularly : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Wednesday, February 23, 2000

Dover Middle Schools alarm systems are failing regularly


Democrat Staff Writer

DOVER  Equipment problems continue at the new $15.5 million Dover Middle School on Daley Drive, where software and hardware glitches have wreaked havoc on the schools heating, ventilation and air conditioning system.

To make matters worse, the schools alarm systems are now failing on a regular basis. Over the past two weeks, police have responded to the new school 13 times for burglar and maintenance alarms, according to Police Chief William Fenniman.

Late Sunday evening, after a false alarm at 8 p.m. and another at 9:35 p.m., Police Lt. Joe McGivern said he anticipated the School Department would resolve the problem by Monday. In the meantime, police would continue to respond to the school, as they would any alarm call, he said.

But Assistant Superintendent Stephania Pearce said she was only made aware of the alarm problems on Tuesday.

In addition to the intrusion alarms, Pearce said the schools fire alarms are also failing. That system is programmed to notify the Police and Fire departments each morning it is active, but is not doing so.

"Im concerned," Pearce said. "Its a life safety issue. Children are at risk."

The subcontractor who installed the system, Simplex, is attempting to iron out the problems as soon as possible, Pearce added.

Since the school was completed in December, it has been plagued with heating and ventilation problems. On Jan. 31, a thawed heating coil burst, spilling water on the staff dining area and Brookside cafeteria. Ceiling and floor tiles will need to be replaced, and possibly some cafeteria tables, Superintendent Armand LaSelva said.

Temperature has varied greatly throughout the new building due to software problems, according to Maintenance Director Thom Forbes, who said the system will likely need a year to be ironed out.

The problems are covered under warranty for a year, Pearce said.

The schools HVAC system and plumbing were a sizable share of the total construction budget, clocking in at more than $2 million.

-- Martin Thompson (, February 24, 2000


This is Dover, New Hampshire.

-- Philip Bogdonoff (, February 24, 2000.

I followed up with the reporter, Michael Gillis. I asked him if any of the problems with the HVAC system and/or alarm system could be attributable to Y2K glitches and if he didn't know, who to ask?

Yesterday, via e-mail, he said:

"There is no indication that Y2K is the culprit at the Dover Middle School, but that's a good question, one I'll certainly follow up on. If you need to speak with someone, try Stephania Pearce, assistant superintendent, at 603-742-6400. She should be up to speed by today."

I reached Ms. Pearce this morning and she said (paraphrasing from my quick notes):

"It's a brand new building. The students and teachers just moved in in January. The specs for the construction asked for everything to be Y2K compliant. We met with the vendors and contractor last evening at a committee meeting. The problem appears to be that all the sensors in the building are programmed inappropriately. They turn on the heat when no one is there and vice versa."

I asked if these problems could be Y2K-caused. She said, "It's brand new equipment."

I said, "Well, even brand new equipment could have embedded systems with problems, e.g., clocks set to the wrong time, which might explain the misaligned heating and cooling." She said, "Well, if that's the case, the vendor and contractor are not saying so. You'd have to check with them: Simplex and Eckmann [sp?] Construction."

I thanked her and said I'd post this to the GICC.

I'll also convey this back to Michael Gillis -- perhaps he can follow up with Simplex and Eckmann.

-- Philip Bogdonoff (, February 25, 2000.

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