By Jenny Edengard
The fire alarm went off twice at Pell Hall and the Life and Science building while classes were in session on Wednesday, Feb. 4.
The first alarm went off at 2:26 p.m., forcing students to wait outside in 35 degrees for over 30 minutes, without any information regarding what caused the alarm to sound. The alarm stopped at 3:02 p.m., and students were allowed to re-enter the building. A second alarm erupted shortly after the first, at approximately 3:15 p.m. About half of the students did not bring their jackets when they rushed outside, assuming it was a fire drill.
Danielle Giaccotto, a senior Psychology major, left her class and waited outside without a coat. “I was in my Earth Science class when the fire alarm went off. The whole class went outside thinking it was just a fire drill,” Giaccotto said. We waited outside with no information, and were still unable to return inside; we were freezing! It was very frustrating not knowing what we should do. We searched for our professor, and she let us go home early. So, in the end, we kind of lucked out.”
Other student where displeased about the uncertainty of whether it was a fire drill or an actual fire. “The alarm went off during my Earth Science lab, about 25 minutes into class,” said Nicole DiGiovanni, a senior Photography major. “We immediately closed our books and ran out back with the professor. We had no idea what was going on, and pretty soon the rumors began. Was it or wasn’t it a fire drill? The drill, or whatever it was, ended after about 40 minutes, and by that time, the entire class scattered. Only five students made it back to class; only to have another fire alarm interrupt us once again.”
Heather Weiland, a junior Biology major, explained how the timing of the two fire alarms could not have been more inconvenient for her and her classmates. “I was in [my] Physics class when the first alarm went off, just as we started a quiz. And moments after getting back in from the first alarm, a second went off, not only causing my class to freeze, but dragging our quiz out for over an hour.”
Zack Murov, a senior Political Science major, had a different reaction, and was pleased with how the situation was handled. “Once again, Facilities did a great job taking care of a stressful situation on campus.”
“It was impressive how orderly the evacuation of Pell Hall and the Life and Science building took place when the fire alarms went off,” said Dr. Lillian Tanguay, a professor of Geology. “It’s great that the alarms work well, and hopefully everyone takes evacuation seriously, especially in science buildings where emergencies could result from fire, electrical shortages, or toxic chemical spills.”
The Offices of Public Safety and Facilities would not comment on the situation despite repeated requests. Students and faculty involved remain unaware of the cause of the fire alarms.