Student records unaffected by UWI fire

People walk past a fire truck at UWI, St Augustine, on Friday after a fire brke out at the Lloyd Braithwaite Student Administration Building on Thursday night. - Angelo Marcelle
People walk past a fire truck at UWI, St Augustine, on Friday after a fire brke out at the Lloyd Braithwaite Student Administration Building on Thursday night. - Angelo Marcelle

NO STUDENT records or sensitive documents were lost in the fire at the University of the West Indies' (UWI) Lloyd Braithwaite Student Administration Building on Thursday night.

Maria Rivas-Mc Millan, acting manager of communications at UWI's Communications, Marketing and Communications Office, told Newsday items such as stationery, groceries and "other such ancillary things" were stored in the storage room on the third floor, where unconfirmed reports suggest the fire may have started.

"No student or sensitive records were stored in that area of the building. No such documents were therefore lost," Rivas-McMillan said.

While there were people in the building at the time, all were evacuated quickly and safely, with no injuries reported.

The building was cordoned off, and fire officers were leaving when Newsday visited on Friday morning. The cause of the fire is yet to be determined.

UWI security called the fire service after smoke was seen coming from the building just after 7 pm.

Officers from the Tunapuna and San Juan fire stations, as well as Fire Headquarters, Wrightson Road, Port of Spain, responded.

Deputy principal Prof Indar Ramnarine commended the officers for their timely response and ability to quickly put out the flames.

"I thought that we might have lost the building, but they (firefighters) did a really good job," he said.

The morning after, a worker from the administrative department told Newsday, in jest, "We have no where to work now."

She was unwilling to speak on the record, but said she was upset about the fire and the potential to hamper operations.

However, Rivas-Mc Millan told Newsday many of the administrative functions can and will be done remotely until staff are allowed to return to the building.

"(Staff are working remotely) to continue all the services with regard to student accounts, examinations, admissions, records, and graduate studies.

The office of the deputy campus registrar and the Division of Student Support and Development are also housed there. Students and others can access the relevant services online.

Asked whether the fire posed a financial setback for UWI, Rivas-McMillan replied, "Relatively speaking, the associated expense is not expected to be astronomical given that the damage was contained generally within an approximate 1000 square feet store room area.

"We expect that the repairs will be a manageable expense and will not create a set-back effect.

"The building was also fully insured and our adjusters have already begun the work to assess the damage."

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