College considers ban of fridges, heaters

Dr. Roger Spalding has brought his lunch from home almost every day for the 31 years he has worked at MCCC.

A recently proposed Appliance Policy for MCCC could change that.

The policy would eliminate the use of coffee pots, refrigerators, microwaves, space heaters and fans in faculty offices.

Spalding and several other faculty members would be unhappy if the policy took away their personal appliances.

“If I don’t have a microwave or refrigerator, what do I do about lunch?” Spalding said.

Jim Blumberg, director of the Physical Plant at MCCC, drafted the appliance policy after issues involving incorrect circuits used for appliances in offices were noticed. As a result, appliances that generate heat could lead to fire, he said.

Since some buildings on campus were built in the 1960s, the circuitry does not accommodate the needs of the electronic appliances used today, creating a possible fire hazard, Blumberg said.

In some cases, more than one office is sharing the same circuit breaker, and if too many appliances are being used at the same time, the circuit breaker could overheat.

“You could have a fire at the breaker or anywhere along that line,” Blumberg said.

Blumberg said the worst safety problems are space heaters and cooking appliances. If space heaters or coffee pots are left on too long, they could burn nearby objects and lead to fire.

“One fire, one death or injury, and the same people who are telling me I’m crazy would wonder why we didn’t have a policy in the first place,” Blumberg said.

The motivation for the policy is to get rid of extension cords and upgrade circuits to eliminate possible sources of ignition, Blumberg said.

With the varying schedules of faculty members, not having appliances in their offices would mean they might have to go without lunch or coffee because they do not have enough time to get to the cafeteria between classes.

“We all need access to a microwave, because a lot of us only have fifteen minutes between classes,” Mark Naber, associate professor of mathematics, said.

Kathy Shepherd, assistant professor of mathematics, also felt that she would not have enough time to eat lunch or grab a beverage if she did not have her refrigerator.

“Five minutes is not long enough to run over to the cafeteria,” she said.

Naber has a microwave in his office, and he and Shepherd use each other’s appliances.

Naber suggested regulating the temperature in the college so the dangers of space heaters could be eliminated.

“Space heaters have got to go, but that would be cleared up if they handled the temperatures,” he said.

MCCC does not currently have any break rooms for faculty where they can keep their lunch or have a cup of coffee.

“I’d like to see them stay,” Spalding said about his appliances. “I’ve had them for a long time.”

Currently, the proposed policy is “on hiatus,” Blumberg said.

Once the Fall semester begins, everyone can take a look at the policy and changes can be discussed.

Blumberg knows the end result will be different than the original document.

“If I’m running something and I’m trying to follow electric code and fire safety and am going to write a policy, let’s start with the most stringent rules we can, and then debate and compromise,” Blumberg said. “If some things can be moved around, you do that.”

The policy draft will go back to the Health and Safety Committee at the end of September.

“I want to keep the lights on, and the power running to each office safely,” Blumberg said.