Emergency Backup Freezers

Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC) Freezer Failure Emergency Protocol

CUIMC has obtained eight, -80C upright, shelved freezers that are available for the research community to use during a freezer failure while their freezer is being repaired or replaced. Five freezers will be added to the contingency freezer inventory for the P&S and Black Buildings. These freezers are alarmed using a remote wireless environmental monitoring system administered by CU Facilities, specifically, Yvonne Wojcicki, Executive Director of Campus Life Safety & Regulatory Compliance. This system tracks freezer temperature and will alert CU Facilities immediately of increased temperatures. The freezers are located in secured (card reader controlled) rooms.

Freezer locations

  • Russ Berrie Medical Science Pavilion, Sub-Cellar SC11 (2 units)
  • Hammer Health Sciences Center Lower Level, Room 212D (3 units)
  • Irving Cancer Research Center Garage Level 3, near Stairwell A (3 units)
  • Black & P&S, locations TBD (5 units)


  • Only one contingency freezer may be used at one time per lab with the understanding that a freezer may be shared with another lab.
  • A lab may not move or relocate samples from any freezer belonging to another lab.
  • Hazardous materials (e.g. radioactive samples) may not be stored in any contingency freezer.
  • A freezer may be used for one month while the lab’s failed freezer is repaired or replaced. After one month, the department will be charged for use.
  • The lab staff is responsible for packing, labeling, and transporting materials to the freezer.
  • The lab manager or other CU lab staff will work with Facilities for the duration of use.


In the event of a freezer failure:

  • Contact CU Facilities Compliance to request access to a backup freezer at 212-305-8100 via Public Safety. Provide the name, UNI, and contact number of the lab manager responsible and the location of the failed freezer.
  • Follow-up the call with an email (24/7) to yw2366@cumc.columbia.edu
  • The lab manager’s ID badge will be activated for access to the backup freezer location.
  • Contact yw2366@cumc.columbia.edu when the lab no longer needs use of the backup freezer; provide sufficient lead time for emptying backup freezer of contents.


If you have any difficulty with access, please notify the VP&S Office for Research by emailing ps-officeforresearch@cumc.columbia.edu.