The Holly Pointe Commons stairwells have been flocked with mass amounts of footsteps recently, and many students living in Rowan’s newest residence hall appear displeased with having to evacuate the building because of the numerous fire alarm activations.
Rowan University faculty have begun to look into why the school’s newest residence hall is seeing this problem occur.
Travis Douglas, Assistant Vice President for Residential Learning & Inclusion Programs, assured students of the faculty’s concern for the alarms with an email. The message, sent to Holly Pointe residents in the afternoon on Sep. 22, provides students with information about the occurrences.
“About 70 percent of the alarms have been due to specific detectors that have triggered alarms and the cause was not clear,” Douglas said in the email. “We are investigating whether these activations indicate a problem with the system, such as faulty detector heads.”
While most of the occurrences do not have an identified cause, Douglas states in the email that some of the alarm activations have happened because of the alarms working properly.
“About 30 percent of the alarms have been caused by student behaviors such as use of body sprays, vaping, and burning foods in microwaves,” he says further in the email.
In an interview, Douglas also said that the alarms have been activated twice due to pull stations being activated maliciously.
Douglas also mentioned that the school’s top priority is student safety. He did acknowledge, however, that the alarm system has the potential to interfere with student activities such as sleep and study.
While the amount of activations is high, Douglas did say that the alarm system in the building is operating normally. He noted that the size of the building could impact the activation of the alarm system.
“It’s a very large building, and so larger buildings have more opportunity for alarms to be activated by resident behavior,” he said.
Douglas further said that the university is looking into a possible cause of the fire alarms occurring. So, the school worked with University Student Living (USL), the partner of the management company for the Commons.
The organization called for a meeting with the contractors of the system, both the designers and installers, along with manufacturers of the detector heads in the student rooms. Detector heads in rooms where a fire alarm activation occurred were sent out for examination.
To ensure resident safety, Rowan has issued “Fire Watches,” where resident assistant staff are placed on guard while repairs are being made and the system is down.
While this procedure normally is done while an alarm system is down, Holly Pointe has seen the procedure carried out only due to maintenance on the system during various periods of time.
Holly Pointe residences appear annoyed with the activation occurrence, and have even raised their concerns to the university.
Resident frustration has prompted some students to create a Twitter and a website, “How Many Fire Alarms At Holly Pointe,” dedicated to keeping track of the alarm activations this semester. As of Sept. 28, students have been forced to evacuate the Commons’ halls and dorms 17 times, according to the website.
While students seem frustrated with the alarm system being activated, Sean Piacente, a junior international business major, believes evacuating the building can conflict with study.
“I don’t mind the fire alarms,” Piacente said. “I’d rather have it go off and have nothing happening, than something happening and it not going off. Me getting up is an inconvenience but they’re keeping us safe so it’s okay.”
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