April 10, 2012

At Broadview, faulty fire alarms ring, then ring again

Residents of Broadview Hall are raising alarms over the false fire drills that have wrenched them from bed in the middle of the night eight times in the past two weeks.

The first of the false alarms rang March 27 around 3 a.m., when one of the building’s heat sensors malfunctioned. The sensors detect sudden sharp changes in temperature.

As students filed out onto the sidewalk, firefighters entered the building to investigate the source of the alarm, eventually turning it off and allowing residents to return to their rooms. However, the alarm went off once more an hour later, causing residents to evacuate again and the fire department to come.

Wick House resident Mido Aly expressed frustration that the University had expediently dealt with facilities problems in Pierce Tower earlier this month but were slow to resolve the problems in Broadview.

“We understand that the University has been under pressure to deal with other dorms, specifically Pierce, but, at the same time, there are some pretty serious problems with the building here that have to be addressed. It’s a shame that they aren’t being addressed as seriously,” Aly, a second-year, said in an April 3 e-mail to Ana Campos, the interim director of Undergraduate Student Housing.

Similar incidents occurred throughout the next week, the most recent at 12:45 a.m. last Tuesday. That afternoon, Facilities Services staff consulted with the fire alarm service company to develop a plan to resolve the faulty sensor problem, and Facilities Services located and replaced an additional defective device on the fifth floor of the dormitory.

Facilities Services and the company that supplies the alarms believe that the system should now function as expected. As a precaution, an engineer has been stationed to monitor the fire alarm systems overnight.

University spokesperson Steve Koppes said in an e-mail that Facilities Services will also continue to replace all alarms on the fifth and sixth floors throughout this week.

The day after Aly’s message, Campos responded to Broadview residents via e-mail.

“After each instance in which the fire alarms have sounded, Facilities Services conducted an inspection of the heat detectors in the zone indicated on the fire panel and has replaced several faulty sensors,” Campos wrote.

Even though administrators reassured residents that the problem was being resolved, two more false alarms went off that week after they made that claim.

Frustrated, Aly encouraged Broadview residents to send e-mails requesting immediate action to Campos and Vice President for Campus Life and Dean of Students Kimberly Goff-Crews.

In his letter to administrators, Aly said he had become mistrustful of the fire detection system, that students no longer had “peace of mind,” and that these problems would hurt the University’s reputation in the long run.

“You get the sense that the building is nearing its end,” Aly said.

Third-year Wick House Resident Assistant Samantha Ngooi supported the residents’ efforts to push for action. “It’s upsetting that housing didn’t address the students until after students had sent letters,” she said.

“The administration doesn’t do anything until pushed. Housing is not preemptive in addressing student concerns: Students always have to demand.”