Fridays during the summer can be quiet at the Richmond Campus of KPU. Extremely quiet.
On this particular Friday, July 25, the atrium was to be filled with smoke as part of a smoke evacuation test as one of the final parts to the six million dollar refurbishment of the campus.
A small crowd gathered, including architects, engineers, consultants of course, the general contractor and KPU's own Facilities Services. For a moment it seemed oddly like waiting for contact in Close Encounters of the Third Kind; waiting for something to happen.
The Fire Marshal was on hand, ready to put out a blaze with a fire extinguisher, or quite possibly to start one with the tank of propane beside her.
At the appointed hour, a non-toxic artificial smoke was ignited by a trained professional, thus replicating the smoke of an actual fire. The smoke would trigger the automatic opening of exhaust louvers and start the roof-top exhaust fans.
The thick cloud lasted only moments and the louvers and fans started exactly as designed. The sunlight streaming through the skylights created interesting patterns and colours in the haze.
At the end of it all, no students or faculty were harmed during the test. Only one lone bookstore guy appeared to have been overcome by the excitement.
Photos by Jim Murray. Copyright 2014.