Though most students living in a residence hall are accustomed to being woken up in the middle of the night by a fire alarm and having to brave the cold in their pajamas at least a couple of times a year, the residents of West Quadrangle residence hall have experienced more than the typical number of false alarms.
Since Feb. 1, West Quad has experienced three false fire alarm incidents, the most recent of which went off at 3:39 a.m. Monday morning. The false alarms are part of what Declan Lugin, associate director of housing security, described as a “disturbing trend emerging in West Quad” in an e-mail he sent to West Quad residents yesterday.
He also encouraged students with any knowledge of the incidents to report the information to the Department of Public Safety’s anonymous tip line or to tell their resident advisor or hall director.
In addition, Lugin wrote that pulling a fire alarm unnecessarily could be dangerous for those living in the building.
“Any time hundreds of people evacuate a building, there is risk of injury. Whenever a fire alarm is activated for non–emergency reasons, it can breed complacency,” Lugin wrote in the e-mail. “Complacency that may result in residents being less willing to evacuate in the event of an actual fire.”
LSA sophomore Michelle Beckwith — who has lived in West Quad for the past two years — said she is genuinely frightened when a fire alarm goes off in light of a real fire that occurred in West Quad last year.
“It’s kind of a problem. I lived here last year and we had them, but this year it’s definitely more ridiculous and I’m always afraid it’s a real fire since we did have a real fire last year,” Beckwith said. “So now it’s hard for me to go ‘Oh it’s just a fire drill.’ Fire alarms freak me out. I take off running, I don’t even put shoes on.”
Beckwith said the fire alarms have been disrupting the sleeping habits of both herself and her friends, who are growing frustrated from the sleep deprivation.
Beckwith agreed with Lugin, noting that with the increased number of false alarms, many West Quad residents opt not to evacuate because they know there isn’t an actual fire.
“What really bothers me though is when people call it a fire drill,” Beckwith said. “We haven’t had a fire drill since September. But people keep calling them that, but it’s not a fire drill. This is not preparing us for a fire at all, this is doing the opposite.”
Resident Advisor and LSA senior Dominick Young is also concerned about students ignoring the alarms and said that every time an alarm is pulled, students should react as if it were an actual fire.
“The more that it happens, the more and more students are less apt to actually evacuate the building which is a problem because every time the fire alarm is pulled, we need to treat it like it’s the real thing,” Young said.
Young added that it’s important for anyone who knows who is pulling the alarm to come forward, because of the serious nature of the issue.
LSA freshman Daniel Zamler said in response to the increase in the number of false alarms, he and his roommate have covered the fire alarm light in their room to stop the alarm from going off for an extended period of time.
“I mean it’s obviously been waking me up at like 4 o’clock in the morning three or four times now which is unpleasant,” Zamler said. “We had to actually tape over the fire alarm light in our room, because one time they couldn’t shut off the fire alarm for six hours or something.”
Zamler said he has also noticed a decline in residents actually evacuating during the alarms.
“The whole building is technically supposed to evacuate, but it has become kind of a mundane thing that kind of pisses people off, so not a lot of people actually go outside,” Zamler said. “That would be bad if people thought there was a fake fire and there actually was one.”
According to Lugin’s email, pulling a fire alarm is a violation of University Policy and Michigan State law. It’s a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for up to a year or fines of up to $1,000, according to the e-mail.