Mountainview fire alarms have residents concerned

By on October 31, 2002

Imagine you are sound asleep in the newest dorm on campus. Suddenly you are startled awake by the annoying buzz of the fire alarm. This has become a common feeling for students living in Mountainview residence hall.
Students are annoyed and frustrated that the fire alarms keep going off, distracting them while they sleep, study and even when they are getting ready for class.
All students know that fire alarms serve as a safety device, but with the unrelenting sounds and no actual fires, students are becoming angry.
According to Phil Goduti, residence hall director of Mountainview, each alarm happens for a reason. The residence halls are required by law to have two drills a semester. So far, Mountainview has had eight alarms, and only one has been a real drill.
Of the other seven, two were small fires, caused by the stove in the third floor kitchen area and another was a pull-and-run.
Goduti said the other fire alarms could have possibly occurred by fumes from bleach or the leaking in of cigarette smoke from outside, because of propped doors.
“All are considered fire alarms and not drills and need to be taken seriously,” said Goduti. “[The unknown cause of alarms] gives even more reason not to prop doors, because cigarette smoke can set off smoke detectors.”
Residents of Mountainview are annoyed not only by the frequency of the fire alarms, but also by the fact that they are not being informed of why they are occurring.
“I think it’s been an inconvenience,” said Marie Canieso. “We should at least know what the problem is.”
Another Mountainview resident, Angela Penna, said, “I think they need to fix whatever the problem is. The amount of drills is getting ridiculous.”
One student even questioned whether these fire drills are sounded to test students.
“It’s really annoying at 3 a.m. repetitively,” said Jennifer Johnson. “What I would like to know is if they are trying to test the system or see if we will get out of the building. If they are testing the system, then it should not be done on our time especially while we are sleeping.”
While students show concern and desire to be informed about the amount of fire alarms, Goduti said it is not necessary for residents to be informed when they are not in danger. If students are in danger they will be made aware of the situation, he said.
Goduti also points out the detectors in the building are state-of-the-art and he is proud of the system in the building. He also said facilities has reported that brand new buildings often go through a period when fire alarms are sometimes frequent, but it is due to a settling period and equipment is adjusted where needed.
“[The settling of the building] is almost like growing pains,” said Goduti. “In a new building it takes a while to get used to areas and fix areas that need tweaking.”
Goduti said the fire alarms are not too sensitive and that every time they have gone off something has triggered them.
“I’m always careful not to say the detectors are too sensitive, because if students think the detectors are too sensitive every time it goes off they will think it is another false,” he said. “It is extremely important to leave in the event of an alarm. If alarms are ignored or disregarded, students’ safety is at risk.”
One Mountainview Resident Assistant commented on the frequency of the fire alarms.
“In a sense it’s good that the detectors are very sensitive. Obviously it is good to be notified,” said Felicity Melillo. “At the same time it’s disruptive, and more and more residents are apprehensive to leave because of how often these alarms occur.”
Melillo said it scares her that students are not leaving the building fast enough any longer, since they think it is always a false alarm.
“At other schools bad fires have occurred and it might be just one alarm that isn’t false and is the real thing,” she said.
Goduti says there is no main cause for the frequent fire alarms and there is no way to know if they will continue to be a problem. Yet, all of these drills must be taken as a precautionary measure in order to ensure all of the students’ safety, he said.


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