Fire the Fire Alarms

By Annika Ragnartz ‘22
Staff Writer

In the past three weeks, there have been more than nine fire alarms in the Browning/Dorsey Residential Halls. According to Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Charlotte Johnson, there is no evidence that any of them were false alarms.

In an email to Browning/Dorsey residents, Assistant Dean and Director of Campus Life Brenda Ice reported that three or four alarms were caused by smoke from burnt food, two were from people smoking in or near the bathrooms, and one was a fire alarm drill. Despite there being no false alarms, the number of alarms that have gone of this semester have led students to have concerns about the effectiveness of the alarms.

“It’s a bit of a “boy who cried wolf” scenario; personally I’m feeling less concerned about fire danger and more annoyed/angry each time one goes off,” Browning resident Elizabeth Carleton ‘22 said.

Additionally, students have raised concerns about how often the alarms are going off in comparison to other dorms.

“If each alarm went off with actual reason, we really need to evaluate who should be allowed to cook in the kitchens because none of the other dorms are experiencing alarms in the same frequency so either our alarms are faulty or we have the worst chefs in America living here,” Keila Joy ‘21, a two-year Browning/Dorsey resident, said.

Joy and other residents have raised questions about whether the alarms in Browning/Dorsey are more sensitive than other halls as a way to ex-plain the difference in alarm frequency.

According to Dean Johnson, “facilities will also be reviewing exhaust fans, humidity sensors, and fire alarm sensors to ensure an optimal and effective sensitivity level.”

In most other halls, the fire alarms have been deliberately sounded only once for a semi-annual fire drill. For residents of Browning/Dorsey, the most recent fire alarm, sounded on Feb. 11, was the ninth alarm in total. As a result, many students believe that they should have been exempt from the drill.

“Getting woken up at 6:30am and having to stand outside in 30ish-degree weather, all for a mere drill, was really inexcusable,” Browning resident Julia Lohman ‘21 said. “Browning and Dorsey, at least, had had their fair share of drills and did not need the extra practice.”