University of Manitoba
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Duff Roblin Fire Recovery Updates

Click here for the University of Manitoba Homepage.

Click here for the Board of Governors Report on the Duff Roblin Building fire (PDF).

July 24, 2009 Update

Recovery and restoration efforts related to the March 28 fire in the Duff Roblin Building continue. Here is the latest update:

• The University of Manitoba has brought in a project manager whose sole focus is the recovery and restoration of the building and its contents. The project manager is also responsible for ensuring the temporary placement of staff, faculty and students during the rebuilding process and the smooth transition back into the building when clean up and construction is complete.

• The Fire Recovery committee – made up of representatives from university administration, the affected faculties, clean up and restoration companies, Environmental Health and Safety officials and others – gathers bi-weekly to share information and receive updates on the recovery efforts.

• The Duff Roblin Building has been cleared of the vast majority of contents. Items have been taken to a 141,000 square-foot warehouse off campus where they are being assessed for cleaning, restoration and/or replacement.

• Items which have already undergone this process are being returned to their owners.

• most of the data located on desktop and laptop computers has been recovered and replacement computer equipment has been ordered.

• Arrangements are being made to have modular trailer units brought on to campus to accommodate Department of Psychology offices and laboratory space. These trailers will be positioned on “B” parking lot (located to the east of the Fletcher Argue Building) and are expected to be in place by the end of the month. The trailer village is expected to be in place until about March 31, 2010. Several meters at the southwest end of “B” lot will be temporarily hooded and several rows of staff parking will be temporarily barricaded to accommodate the installation of the trailers.

• Once complete, the trailer village will not create a shortage of parking space for “B” lot staff permit holders. Accessible parking stalls will remain available in their current location; however, the 24-hour reserved staff parking area will be relocated east of the trailer village.

• Administrative offices for the psychology department will continue to be housed in Chancellor’s Hall until Duff Roblin is ready for re-occupancy.

• Office and laboratory space for the other affected faculties (anthropology, biological sciences, human nutritional sciences and textile sciences) has been established in existing facilities on campus.

• Construction company PCL Incorporated has been tasked with the restoration of Duff Roblin building. This process is just underway with the development of construction schedules.


April 16 Update

Floor Specific Access, Restoration and Storage Plan:

The second wave of access to the Duff Roblin building began on Monday, April 13, 2009. There are four main stages to this process. These stages have been organized around a priority list of critical needs that takes into consideration the issues of safety, sensitive equipment and urgent access to teaching and research materials.  These stages are not necessarily consecutive and can take place concurrently within the building. Therefore the dates outlined are only a guide.

1. 3rd, 4th and 5th Floors West Research Equipment  
All PIs and researchers who should supervise the cleaning and removal of sensitive equipment by LWG will be fit tested. Objective is to surface clean and map research equipment in preparation for transport offsite for a full cleaning.  This stage will be undertaken the week of April 13. 

2. 2nd Floor West Teaching Labs 
All contents of the 200 Level teaching labs must be cleaned and relocated before the end of April. Winnipeg Building is responsible for cleaning the equipment and class materials and moving them to a site within Buller Building.

3. 6th Floor Penthouse Field Equipment
There will be no access to this floor.  Only Winnipeg Building and Clean Harbours are given access to surface clean and move all field equipment to the warehouse where it can then be assessed for damage and utility and cleaned if necessary.

Update: A department representative will identify for tagging all priority materials needed for the summer. They will not be cleaned on site. Instead they will first be moved to a staging area within the building (2nd or 3rd Floor East) where items will be cleaned and assessed.

4. 2nd Floor West Museum Collections - East
This collection will be left in position.   The entire room will then be sealed and cleaning assessment made on a case by case basis.

5. 4th Floor East Special Artifacts   Anthropology Labs
Artifacts will be surface cleaned and sealed under departmental supervision.

6. East All Floors
In order to speed recovery efforts, all office contents and equipment on the east side will be surface cleaned, packed and moved to the warehouse. Every office and lab space will be mapped out at the warehouse and all contents will be carefully boxed and transported to the corresponding site by Winnipeg Furniture/Builders.  Once at the warehouse all staff and graduate students will have the opportunity to access their materials. All materials will be properly decontaminated and stored in a secure and safe environment where everyone impacted by the fire can take some time to organize personal property without the pressure of a strict timeline.

President's Message:

This was a major fire, affecting many people in the University of Manitoba community: students, faculty and staff. I am proud of the degree of professionalism, initiative and compassion that is being demonstrated by the University of Manitoba community in its response.

Our own team has worked with the hired contractors to create an effective plan to cope with the aftereffects of this fire. We know that academic and research work, even personal belongings, may have suffered damage due to fire, smoke or water and we fully recognize the importance of these effects. We are doing our best to recover them, wherever possible, with an immediate priority on the safe retrieval of materials required to facilitate the end of this academic term.

In a time such as this, we must continue to work together for the collective good and to demonstrate our ability to overcome adversity. I thank all those who have worked and who continue to work to mitigate the impact of this fire and I assure everyone who has been affected that we understand their distress and will do everything possible to lessen the impact.  

David Barnard
President and Vice-Chancellor
University of Manitoba

On Saturday, March 28 the Duff Roblin Building suffered significant damage due to an electrical fire. All occupants were safely evacuated and no injuries were reported, however, the building – particularly the west wing of the building -- did sustain serious damage that will affect its use for the remainder of the school term and beyond.  

Click here for photos showing the aftermath of the fire in Duff Roblin Building.

The university hosted an open information meeting on March 30 to update staff and students on the situation, followed by private, individual meetings for the units affected. Our priority, beyond safety concerns, is to minimize, as much as possible, the impact on staff and student activities. The university is also committed to making it a priority to retrieve as many relevant teaching and research materials from the affected area as possible to ensure a successful completion to the current academic terms.

This website will be updated on a regular basis with information as it becomes available. Staff and students are encouraged to check the website regularly for updates.

• To allow for recovery and restoration efforts, the Duff Roblin Building remains closed to the public.
• The university has established an emergency operations centre in room 207 University Centre to act as an information hub for those affected by the fire and the building closure. The phone number for this room is 474-9262. This room has also been outfitted with computers, phones and copiers which are available for use by faculty and staff of affected departments.
• The departments affected by the fire include: psychology, biological sciences, anthropology and human nutritional sciences and textile sciences.
• Each of these departments are in the process of relocating affected activities and offices to new spaces which include:

o Biological Sciences --121 Machray Hall, 474-9245

o Psychology -- Chancellor’s Hall, 474-6378

o Human nutritional sciences – 209 Human Ecology Building, 474-7386

o Textile sciences – 205 Human Ecology Building, 474-8137

o Anthropology – 433 Fletcher Argue Building, 474-6327
• Students will be contacted via their JUMP and email addresses as soon as possible with information regarding classroom changes, exams and relocation of research activities. This information will also be posted on this website as it becomes available. Students are asked to remain in contact with their department offices for more specific details. A number of classes may resume as early as Tuesday, March 31.
• Decisions regarding the impact on specific classes, labs and exams will be made on a case by case basis in consultation with faculty deans and department heads.
• University administration is currently assessing the condition of laboratories and attempting to relocate work to other labs where possible. An assessment is also being conducted on the impact on student thesis research work on a case by case basis through department heads in collaboration with the Faculty of Graduate Studies.
• Environmental Health and Safety is monitoring building air quality and will continue to do so on a regular basis.
• University administration, working in collaboration with the departments affected is establishing an Access Plan to allow limited and supervised access to the affected parts of the building to retrieve teaching and research materials. Affected staff, teaching assistants and graduate students are asked to contact their department head to be assigned a place on the list.
• The access protocol is as follows:

o Entry will be arranged between 8:30 am and 8:30 pm through the east side entrance of the building.

o Everyone entering the building will be asked to provide identification and to sign in and out.

o Those entering the building may be required to wear protective gear which will be provided.

o Computers and electronic equipment in the building will be tagged and removed by the contractors to be taken to a computer recovery centre for assessment and repair if possible. Anyone accessing the building to retrieve their belongings is asked to refrain from turning on their computers or electronic equipment.
• Support staff who were scheduled to work but were unable to do so because of the fire will be paid as usual. • Support staff are asked to contact their department office directly for information on where they should be reporting to work.
• Students affected by the fire and the building closure who wish to access counseling services are encouraged to contact the Student Counselling and Career Centre at 474-8605.
• University staff members affected by the fire and building closure who wish to access counseling services are encouraged to contact the Employee Assistance Program at or by calling 1-800-387-4765.
• All heating, ventilation and water systems have been turned back on in the building. Full recovery of the building, however, is expected to take months to complete.

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