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Faulty fire alarms cause five evacuations at Stern Hall

ALISA ROYER/The Stanford Daily

Students in Stern Hall have been forced to evacuate their residences five times this year due to faulty fire alarms. The faulty alarms were the result of upgrades made to the fire alarm system over the summer.

Alarms have also gone off several times because of routine system testing that occurred after residents moved in, according to statement from Rodger Whitney, executive director of Student Housing.

The faulty alarms at Stern occurred twice in one night around midnight, and on another occasion around 10 a.m. In several instances residents were evacuated for about 15 minutes while firefighters searched the dorms.

“I had to leave my work and go outside and stop my train of thought in the middle,” said Lauren Nguyen ‘15. “I was pretty annoyed by the alarms. I had to stop whatever I was doing to go outside and it was a false alarm.”

Others were interrupted by the alarms while sleeping or eating a meal.

“The fire alarms went off one time when I was trying to sleep. I just ignored it for a bit but eventually I came down,” said Elisha Marquez ‘16. “A couple people did stay, but they are really hard to ignore so eventually people left. There is no way to sleep through them.”

Brian Leahy ‘16 debated staying in his dorm during the third alarm malfunction. Leahy said he was sleeping when the alarm went off, and he initially planned to wait through the alarm because he predicted that it was just malfunctioning. He eventually left because of the noise.

“They’ve gone off so many times and it’s kind of desensitizing people to the entire purpose of the fire alarm,” Leahy said. “People are just not really taking it seriously anymore. The more it goes off without any real fire, the more people start to think it’s just not working properly.”

Leahy said that the fire alarms also went off when he was on his way to a meal, and he had to evacuate the building and wait to eat until after the building was inspected by firefighters. He said that while the frequency of the alarms has allowed students to practice evacuation, the negative effects of desensitization to the alarms outweigh the benefits.

Jonathan Mott ‘12, who is now living in Burbank for his fourth consecutive year, said these unscheduled fire alarms are much more frequent than in previous years, when they only occurred once or twice a quarter.

“I know that because they redid the system they are probably just working out a lot of the bugs and sensitivities in it,” Mott said. “It’s kind of annoying that they didn’t do more tests before.”

According to Whitney, the problem has been resolved by switching to a different sensor type.