This semester, students who live in Holly Pointe Commons have experienced 12 alarms from the start of the semester to October 17th. The majority of the alarms have not been fire drills. Instead they have been caused by two main causes: natural gas and malicious pulling of the fire alarm.
Travis Douglas, Assistant Vice President for Residential Learning, explains how natural gas fueled four of the alarms so far.
“The Fire Department and Public Safety ordered the evacuations. The gas company was called and indicated the building was safe to reoccupy,” Douglas said. “A burner associated with the hot water boiler that was not burning all of the gas in a chamber and that excess gas was being exhausted outside as designed [in a process called burping], but the odor was concerning to people. That boiler was shut off so that burner could be repaired, and it has not led to any alarms since that repair.”
As for pulling the fire alarms maliciously, there have been six reports with one arrest made. Out of all of the ways fire alarms are triggered, the majority of them are caused by student behavior. Whether it’s by cooking, vaping indoors or the spraying of aerosols, the cause of the alarms isn’t generally associated with malfunctions.
Douglas and Rowan University are actively trying to reduce nuisance alarms by sending educational materials to residents and upgrading the alarm systems.
The effects of the fire alarms have definitely taken its toll on Rowan’s students.
One student, freshman Shekinah Mays, fainted during a fire alarm on the night of November 3rd after experiencing seven alarms in three days.
“I was standing outside the dorm and felt nauseous and it was at that time that I recall hearing my roommate calling my name and screaming for help. I was getting up off of the ground after fainting,” Mays said. “After medical personnel came to assist, I was transported to the local hospital and was out of school for the week.”
Mays is hopeful that Rowan University will work on and eventually solve the problem behind fire alarms at Holly Pointe.
Another freshman resident, Grace Pilet, has experienced sleeping problems due to the fire alarms going off late at night.
“So at first it wasn’t really a problem. It was just kind of a nuisance, but once it started to affect my sleep it became a problem,” Pilet said. “Some of them would be at like 3 in the morning and there was one that lasted 30 minutes and a girl [Mays] literally passed out. But when they come on late after I’m already asleep, it’s impossible for me to fall back asleep afterwards.”
Although alarm data is not posted on a public website, actual fires are logged on Rowan’s Clery Act Fire Log.
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