On a typical day a thundering herd of CSU students can be seen
heading straight for the stairs of the Clark Building, causing a
backup because only one student can pass through the door at a
While these traffic jams can be inconvenient, some students
wonder what might happen in an emergency situation in which
hundreds of students need to go down the stairs at once.
“It could be a pretty bad situation,” said freshman Kristen
Nicholas, an open option major. “I could see a huge stampede
happening, people getting smashed and a back-up at the door
However, when asked if he thought the doors, which are 3 feet
wide and in compliance with fire code, were a potential safety
hazard in an emergency situation, Poudre Fire Authority Fire
Marshall Randy Wright said they were not.
He explained something known as the cascade effect, which states
that some classrooms are situated farther away from the stairs than
others, so “not everyone will go through the door at the same
Ken Quintana, a CSU environmental health and safety specialist,
does not see a problem with the size of doors either.
“There are exits at each corner, so that gives you enough exit
space for everyone to get out,” he said.
Quintana also said the back-ups that occur at certain stairwell
doors during the day could be deceptive.
“Everyone wants to go out the west door because that’s where
everything is – the (Morgan) Library, the (Lory) Student Center,”
he said. “In a fire, everyone would go out the closest exit.”
Ken Paul, an architect with Facilities Management, said the
doors pose no potential safety threat.
“The doors are much taller than normal, so they look narrow,” he
He also said that the doors are a safety precaution, as they are
connected to smoke detectors and will automatically close during a
fire to prevent smoke and hot air from traveling up or down the
stairs. This eliminates the possibility of simply doing away with
the doors and making an open stairway.
Paul does not think that there is a practical way to re-design
the doors to accommodate more than one person at a time.
“As far as putting a wider door there, you’d be looking at a
para-door,” Paul said. “In that case, you need to do two 3-foot
doors and there really isn’t room to do that.”
He estimated the cost of replacing the doors in one wing of the
building to be upwards of $120,000, and in a year of cost-cutting
and paper rations, some students feel the money could be better
“They’ve already started cutting academic money, so it should go
to the classes, ” said freshman Shelley Brunjak, an open option
major who thinks the doors probably should be replaced.
While Paul does not believe the doors pose any kind of hazard,
he advises students to use staircases other than the west ones to
offset the frequent jams.
“They’ve just got to be patient; try another stairway, maybe
one’s not used as much,” he said.