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Remsen Restoration Efforts Continue (UPDATED)

Photo by Katie Lenhart

UPDATE 3/18/23:  Remsen 5 will reopen Monday morning (March 20).

Steady progress continues to be made with recovery efforts and the reopening of floors in the Remsen Medical Sciences Building on the Geisel School of Medicine’s campus following a fire in one of its laboratories on the seventh floor.

Floors 1 through 4 have now been reopened and restoration work continues on the remaining floors. Fire investigators have determined that the cause of the fire that took place on the morning of February 26 was due to an electrical malfunction in equipment used for molecular biology research. Fortunately, there was no one in the lab at the time of the fire and there were no injuries in the incident.

“We are anticipating having some portions of Remsen 5 and 6 back online soon,” says Ben Jorgensen, director of Facilities at Geisel, who notes that the north end of the building sustained less water damage than the south. “Although the timing of each floor is subject to change depending on what we find. The immediate and ongoing safety of the building occupants is our primary concern.”

Jorgensen says it’s too early to speculate on a timeline for reopening the seventh floor because of the extensive clean up needed. “The lab that was affected by the fire is going to require a great deal of attention in terms of safety, remediation, and planning,” he says. “We’ve begun that process, and we’re supporting the relocation of the investigator’s research to the adjacent building so that his research can continue while restoration is underway.”

Along with the strong support and expertise provided by teams involved in the recovery efforts, those faculty members who have been displaced by the fire are grateful for the generosity shown by colleagues.

“I realize that some of our faculties’ research programs are not yet back up to normal, and I’m aware of the impact this has had on our students and staff,” says Marnie Halpern, PhD, chair and professor of Molecular and Systems Biology at Geisel. “I want to express my gratitude to our facilities team for the incredible work they are doing, and to all of our colleagues in the Vail and Life Sciences Buildings who have provided us with temporary bench space, reagents, and help to get our research programs up and running as quickly as possible.”

Concerning progress made to date by the Facilities team in Remsen’s educational spaces, Sonia Nagy Chimienti, MD, FIDSA, senior associate dean for Medical Education, adds: “What appeared initially to be a relatively lengthy process is moving efficiently and smoothly because of their leadership and coordination. They have been receptive, have been able to get people back into offices on Remsen 2 and 3 quickly, and have guided those on the higher floors. Communication has been robust and clear. They have helped us retrieve items from offices when needed. I appreciate all they are doing to restore operations without interruption.”

Importantly, to avoid possible health and safety risks and to ensure that cleaning and recovery efforts can continue at their current rates, all faculty, trainees, and staff are asked to stay out of restricted areas. Anyone needing to enter those areas should contact the Geisel Facilities Office (Geisel.Facilities@dartmouth.edu) to coordinate accompanied access.

The Geisel Dean’s Office will continue to share updates on the Remsen restoration work as they become available. “Once again, I want to express our greatest appreciation for the hard work of our Geisel Facilities team, Dartmouth’s H&S Office and Dartmouth’s Facilities, Operations and Maintenance (FO&M) staff, Engleberth Construction, and ServPro (our contracted remediation specialists). This has been a team effort and I can’t thank everyone enough for helping us to restore functions as quickly as possible,” says Geisel Dean Duane Compton, PhD.

For those who have questions about the Remsen recovery efforts, please contact the Geisel Facilities Office (Geisel.facilities@dartmouth.edu).