McMahon Hall Gets a Fire Safety Upgrade



The chart set up by McMahon Hall’s first floor entrance designates the status of the Life Safety System on each floor. Yellow stickers signify floors whose systems are yet to be upgraded.


McMahon Hall has been operating on a fire alarm system originally installed in 1993, but a new system will soon be put in place, in addition to other upgrades. 

Total costs so far have exceeded $1 million, a price tag to be expected when implementing new technology, according to Joseph Scaltro, director of engineering services at Fordham Lincoln Center (FLC).

“The cost includes programing all the new fire alarm devices; an electrician furnishing and installing all conduits and wires; and patching, painting and cleaning up after the contractors, as we install devices on all floors of the 21-story building,” Scaltro said.

Scaltro referred to the fire alarm and sprinkler systems as a “Life Safety System,” which is routinely inspected and maintained. The original system is largely outdated and many of the system’s required parts are no longer sold or produced. 

New up-to-date technology and wiring will be installed into the Life Safety System. All devices in McMahon will now connect directly to the main fire alarm control panel on McMahon’s ground level. The fire alarm system will also connect to both the sprinkler system and smoke detectors, allowing more communications among systems. The changes will allow the FDNY and FLC Fire Safety Director to communicate more clearly and effectively with residents.

To ensure that the installation process would not bother residents, the system was implemented in two-to four-floor increments from Dec. 20 to Jan. 13. “The invasive, noisy work was done from Dec. 20 to Jan. 13, by design,” Scaltro said. 

Signs of the replacement can be seen throughout the residential hall. A chart has been put up next to the first floor entrance to McMahon Hall, which denotes the status of the Life Safety System on each floor. 

Bryan Huchesson, FCLC and Alvin Ailey ’22, was confused by the chart. “I don’t even know what it is,” Huchesson said. He was further unnerved by the wires and other exposed electronics. “It just looks ominous. Especially the big red thing,” said Huchesson, referring to the red fire alarm panel located in the room adjacent to the McMahon front desk, which has been seen open and emitting various beeping noises at different times in the day. 

In the hallways of McMahon, every front door for each apartment has had hole cut into the wall above. Matthew Chen, FCLC ’22, was concerned with the apparent lack of warning by Fordham before beginning work in students’ dorms over break. “They should’ve told us before they started doing anything,” Chen said. The renovations were briefly included in an email by the Office of Residential Life sent on Dec. 9 which reminded students of “maintenance work” that was to be conducted in dorms over break.

The Capital Planning and Projects Department, part of the NYC Housing Authority, made the initial decision to update McMahon’s fire alarm system. Fordham’s Office of Residential Life, Campus Operations and Campus Security are also involved in the process. The new Life Safety System is expected to be fully installed by May 2020.