Updated: Monday, 27 Feb 2012, 10:43 AM MST
Published : Monday, 27 Feb 2012, 9:39 AM MST
ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Problems plaguing the University of New Mexico Pit continue as broken ventilation fans have led to fire watch patrols for the past 16 games.
While fans focus on the action on the court UNM officials said high above the pit there's a big problem that could turn the massive arena into a smoke pit if there was a fire.
UNM Associate Athletic Director Scott Dotson said the problem is with ventilation fans.
"We've had three fail so far this year, we've corrected two of them," Dotson said. "At this point we don't know why it's failing."
Dotson said one was still down for the Lady Lobo game of the season on Saturday. He said because of that for the past 16 games the pit has been on a fire watch.
The fire watch consists of staff in orange vests called fire watchers. Dotson said they walk the arena looking for smoke and fire so that way a warning can be given with enough time to clear the massive crowd.
"Someone in the main kitchen, someone in the main ticket office, someone back of house by the weight room training area," Dotson said.
Dotson said they will continue to do this for every event until the fan is fixed.
"The propeller inside has been coming apart," Dotson said.
This isn't the first time the pit has been plagued with problems. Last basketball season the same ventilation problem had fire marshals threatening to shut the pit down. There has also been false fire alarms and a section of bleachers has even collapsed.
"It's the growing pains of a new building, new construction," Dotson said.
For now bleacher fans will have to put their trust in the orange vest observers until the ventilation fan problems can be defined.
"They're doing the best that they can with the information that they have, everybody wants it to work," Dotson said.
Dotson said typically they have two fire watchers on hand when one fan is out. He said for three games this year they had to have up to seven because two fans were out and the crowd was so large.