NORMAN — Workers on Monday removed both fire escapes at the University of Oklahoma’s Evans Hall.
The action was taken after the recent death of 22-year-old Casey Cooke, an OU student. The chief medical examiner said the fall caused Cooke’s death.
Brian Ellis, director of facilities management for OU, said the fire escapes were not necessary for Evans Hall fire evacuation plans.
One department’s evacuation plan featured the use of one of the fire escapes, though Ellis said the department could exit the building more efficiently through an internal staircase.
The decision to remove the escapes was made with consideration given to Cooke’s accidental fall from the three-story building’s roof.
“With the incident that happened last week, the decision was made that it was appropriate to take down the fire escapes at this time, in line with both the Norman and university fire marshal,” who provided the university a preliminary ruling, Ellis said.
He said the building has both a fire alarm and a fire sprinkler system and remains in compliance with fire safety regulations.
The Evans Hall fire escapes, however, aren’t the only ones being looked at.
A soon-to-be published report from the university’s fire marshal, produced in consultation with the Norman fire marshal, will discuss fire escapes at Carnegie and Monnet halls — the only other two Norman campus buildings with external fire escapes.
Ellis said he’s not sure when the report will be released, though he said the fire marshals have completed their walk-throughs of the buildings. He said the marshals are now composing their report.
Ellis said fire escapes at Carnegie and Monnet do not provide access to the buildings’ roofs. Rachel McCombs, director of OU’s Open Records Office, said that a report has been filed about a graduation-weekend incident on the roof of Carnegie Hall.
McCombs said the university’s police department has no record of trespassing on the Evans Hall roof or fire escape before June 3, when Cooke’s body was found.
Also, despite media reports of greek organizations climbing campus roofs as rites of passage, Ellis said he had not previously heard of the tradition.
“That was all news to me when it came out in the press this week,” he said. “Whether that was the case or not, I don’t know. I simply took steps to remove the path of access to the roof of Evans Hall.
“We are going to be watching very closely any further trespass onto the roof of any of our campus buildings.”