Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Unplanned Alarms Plague East Campus

Fire alarms on East Campus have been set off several times per week since Feb. 15, which university officials say has led many students to ignore evacuation protocol.

“A number of different things have caused the problem,” said Karen Frank, vice president for facilities and student housing. “We’ve experienced failed modules, some of which have been replaced, [while] other[s] are in order. A flow switch had also failed,” she said.

Frank added that some alarms were set off after a contractor from D.C. Water and Sewer Authority turned off a valve on M St., lowering water pressure to campus sprinklers.

In another case, Frank said, a technician was working and set off the alarm.

But, according to Frank, until all the modules are fixed, the alarms could continue to be set off.

“We assume after all modules replaced that there will be no problems,” she said. “[But], yes, the fire alarms could go off more until all modules are replaced.”

Sierra Jansen (NHS ’11), a resident assistant in LXR Hall, said that since the first alarm on Feb. 15, the alarm has gone off approximately three times a week. She added that this has caused problems during evacuations from the buildings.

“Now, because there have been so many alarms, there is a huge problem with not everyone evacuating. I think that most LXR residents simply go back to sleep, assuming that it is just a false alarm,” she said. “As an RA, the official stance is to remind all residents to evacuate. However, it looks like the problem may be resolved in the near future, as they are currently working to fix the faulty system, as it turned out that all of the modules in the LXR fire system broke.”

Connor Gaffney (COL ’11), a resident of East Campus, said that evacuations have been a major problem with the continuance of the alarm problems.

“It happens at least once a week, usually in the morning. It’s annoying because I’m trying to sleep and it’s dangerous,” Gaffney said. “Most people don’t evacuate anymore and are going

to burn down with the building when there actually is a fire, myself included.”

These evacuation problems prompted the East Campus Hall Director Rachel Ploskonka to send out an e-mail to residents on Feb. 19 stressing the importance of following evacuation procedures.

“I know that over the weekend we had several fire alarms. And, while I can empathize with you all not wanting to get out of your comfy beds to go stand out in the cold, please know that no fire alarm is a drill and you must evacuate the building every time the alarm goes off. When the alarm sounds, we never know if it is real or not,” she said in the e-mail. “Please do not get complacent and assume that the alarm is a false one and consequently not evacuate, especially when considering the fact that East Campus did have a real fire last semester.”

Frank said that all the RAs have the option to fine students who do not evacuate.

Taylor Farmer (COL ’09), a resident of LXR, said that she has come to expect these types of problems living in East Campus.

“[The fire alarms are] ridiculous. . East campus is a cesspool of disaster, always,” Farmer said.

Another resident of East Campus, Rachel Nyitray (SFS ’11), said that she never knows whether the alarm is actually a drill or not because it briefly goes off and then stops.

“This semester, and last semester also, there were various times, normally weekend mornings, when the fire alarm would go off for like five minutes, then turn off, and then start again for like five minutes,” she said. “It was tremendously irritating and I didn’t know if there was actually a fire, a drill or [if] something [was] malfunctioning with the alarm.”

-Contributing writer Shane Hickey contributed to this report.

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