This archived article was written by: Tadd Mecham
The fire alarm has just gone off in your dormitory. You just got out of the shower or pulled a freshly warmed meal out of that handy microwave oven. What is your first instinct? Flee?
False fire alarms have become an issue on many college campuses across Utah. It seems as though every alarm raised is never real, so students have become accustomed to just blocking it out. It becomes just another background noise while students take their sweet time to exit the building.
Herein lies the problem. When fire alarms are raised so frequently and without purpose, many students have the idea ingrained in their skulls that when the alarm goes off, there is no danger, so they continue with what they are doing.
What happens when the alarm is for real? Students continue taking their time to exit the building while the entire structure is engulfed in flames. The ever so dependable false alarm has the potential to lead to extreme disaster. The last thing needed on any campus is the charred remains of students due to poor judgment.
If a student doesn’t take the alarm seriously for the possibility of being barbecued, here is a little incentive to leave the building anyway.
Residence Life Policy dictates that in the event of a fire, every student is required to leave the building. If a student does not evacuate, they are subject to a $25 fine.
Further evacuation failures will result in larger fines and even eviction from campus housing. The more a student discredits the fire alarms, the more money that will be coming out of their pockets. This goes in accordance with state law.
Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Services Alex Herzog, Ph.D., stated, “When you say fire…that is open to interpretation… the purpose of fire alarms is to save lives and reduce damage to buildings due to fire. We have had excessive fire alarms due to people cooking and walking away from stoves. We have lost appliances like stoves due to excessive fire damage last school year.”
So it would seem that not every alarm is raised without reason.
Also, the purpose of fire drills is to get the students acquainted with the best exits when leaving so that in the event of a real fire, they know their best way out. It is good to be familiar with how to exit the building with an alarm blaring so the situation isn’t foreign.
As annoying as they may seem, fire alarms do serve a purpose. They are to ensure the safety of the students if a truly dangerous situation does arise.
Maybe the next time a student hears that alarm, they won’t think twice about exiting the building in a quick but orderly fashion, real fire or not.