Vanier Hall faces mice, small fire

    Renovations are needed in Vanier Hall, say residents after mice were discovered in several dorm rooms and the fire alarm failed to go off when the kitchen stove caught fire.

    Mackenzie Acheson, a first-year student who lives in Vanier, said the residence needs to be updated.

    “I do think Vanier needs renovations, just considering how old the building is,” she said. Construction of the building was completed in 1966 and since then, the residence has been updated twice, but never fully renovated.

    According to Mary Baker, vice-president internal of Vanier’s house committee, mice infested her dorm room while she was away for the holiday break last January.

    “I came back after the break and there was poop everywhere,” Baker said. “They got into my hot chocolate. I had to chuck a ton of stuff.”

    Within two weeks, Baker trapped eight mice in her room with the one trap provided by facilities management.

    (Cassidy Chisholm/AQ)

    “We found out they were getting in through the piping of the radiator,” she said. After discovering the point of entry, facilities management told Baker to stuff the hole with steel wool.

    Baker hasn’t seen any mice since, but other residents have.

    Another resident who lives on the same floor and didn’t want to be identified, saw a mouse run across her room after coming home from this winter break.

    “It was obvious it hasn’t been there long because there wasn’t a lot of damage or droppings, but I did have to throw out all of my wooden chopsticks, napkins, granola bars and things I just couldn’t clean.”

    To ward off the rodent visitors, she’s sprinkled cinnamon and peppermint oil around her room and has set traps. So far, she’s only seen the one mouse.

    Philip Cliff, the director of facilities at STU, said there isn’t an infestation of mice in Vanier.

    “There are mice in the building, that will happen from time to time. It’s just the time of year that they move in in the fall and they’re going to move out in the spring,” Cliff said.

    “When [that happens], we set those traps. It’s the easiest way to address them.”

    Residents have also found mouse feces in the kitchen and lounges.

    According to residents of the newly renovated Harrington Hall, there haven’t been signs of mice as of this year, but there have been signs in Holy Cross House.

    (Cassidy Chisholm/AQ)

    Small grease fire

    Mice aren’t the only problem Vanier Hall is dealing with.

    On Jan. 8 just after 5 p.m., two students were cooking on the stove in the third floor kitchen when the burner caught fire.

    “There [was] nothing wrong with what they were cooking. It certainly wasn’t their food that caused the fire, it was more just the stove and so on,” said Cliff.

    One of the students stayed with the fire while the other went to find a residence advisor. The RA extinguished the fire, but a fire truck was called.

    “The fire prevention officer, they did their investigation as well, and didn’t see anything there that was out of the norm. It was just a simple grease fire of some kind,” Cliff said. “Where the grease originated, it’s kind of hard to tell.”

    According to Acheson only two of the four burners on the stove worked.

    “They told us it was a grease fire from the burners. We only have two working burners on the stove anyways, so they took the stove out,” she said.

    A new stove with a ceramic countertop replaced the old stove two days after the fire.

    “We changed the type of stove … to prevent possibility of any grease being down in [the burners],” Cliff said.


    Shannon Croteau, a second-year student, lives on the second floor of Vanier, just below the kitchen.

    She said the fire alarm failed to go off.

    “People reacted surprised since usually the fire alarm goes off at the slight burning of popcorn, but didn’t at an actual fire. I feel a little concerned since I had no idea what was going on and someone could have been seriously hurt.”

    However, Cliff said building code requirements state there doesn’t have to be a smoke detector in the kitchen. The nearest smoke detector is outside of the kitchen in the stairwell.

    “If there was a smoke detector in there, what could potentially happen, is every time you burn toast, every time somebody was cooking something, it’s just going to set the detectors off,” he said.

    “The door [to the stairwell] was open at the time, but just the amount of smoke wasn’t enough to set the smoke detector off.”

    Jeffrey Carleton, spokesperson for STU, said Vanier Hall is the next building scheduled for renovations but there is no set date.