Hazmat, Fire Officials called to Ward Beecher Following Air Compressor Malfunction

Jambar Staff Report

Sirens and fire officials surrounded Ward Beecher Hall at Youngstown State University early Tuesday morning after a custodian found a room building filled with smoke.

The university community received a Penguin Alert at 6:46 a.m. that stated the building was closed while the Youngstown Fire Department investigated an alarm.

Classes in Ward Beecher Hall were canceled shortly after requesting the student body, and staff to stay clear of the area.

Ron Cole, director of university communications, said although the fire alarm went off, there was no fire. 

There are chemicals for lab and research purposes in Ward Beecher, and Cole said  “out of an abundance of caution [the fire officials called] decided to call the hazmat squad to go in and determine what, if anything, is going on in the building.”

“Whenever there’s an incident of any sort that may happen in [Ward Beecher], the fire department and public safety officials always use extreme caution,” he said.

Stephen Szekely, chief of the Mahoning County Hazmat Team, said the team was called because the alarms went off in the chemical storage room.

“Our responsibility was to go in and see what was going on and see if there were any chemicals that were involved,” he said.

The team determined there was no chemical leak.

The university released a statement that said an air compressor in the basement of Ward Beecher Hall malfunctioned.

The malfunction caused “smoke to infiltrate the building.”

“It spit out a lot of oil, caused a lot of smoke that just came up through the building,” Cole said.

It was then ventilated from Ward Beecher.

Cole said he is unsure if this was the first incident of its kind in the building.