It has become a near regular occurrence in North Court to be woken up during the late hours of the night by a fire alarm.
All residents, obeying fire safety protocol, force themselves outside into the cold and wait until the University of Richmond Police Department and the fire department arrive to turn off the alarm, allowing the residents to go back inside.
Emery Jakab, sophomore, is one of several North Court residents who have been constantly disturbed by the recent string of late-night fire alarms.
“It has happened four or five times now, all past midnight,” Jakab said. “It definitely sucks. You get woken up and have to stay outside for 15 to 20 minutes in the cold until it gets turned off. Then it takes forever to fall asleep again.”
Over the last two weeks, several fire alarms have gone off in the building for no apparent reason, disturbing residents from sleep and study, students said. Until an email was sent on Friday afternoon, the University of Richmond had made no statement to residents about the fire alarms, leaving many students with questions.
Luriel Balaurea, senior, wished UR had provided answers sooner.
“There’s no communication,” Balaurea said. “If the cause of the alarms is the same reason, be it smoking, shower steam or prank, I’d like there to be advisement to students.”
Tanesha Dixon, area coordinator for North Court, sent an email out to residents Friday afternoon about the fire alarms.
“Earlier this week we worked and communicated closely with members of the facilities staff and safety and risk management to look into the matter,” Dixon’s email read. “Please know that these were not false alarms and in each situation something has triggered a sensor in a detector inside a room.”
Jessica Miller, junior, was concerned about the effect that alarms would have on students’ daily lives and on the responsibilities of UR’s safety management.
“I feel that the fire alarms, and their frequency and timing in the middle of the night, can impact students’ ability to perform well in their classes and any of their other daily activities because it is very disorienting to be woken up during the night, especially several times over a few days,” Miller said. “It also calls university safety personnel away from possibly taking care of more serious events that may need their attention when they need to come to address the fire alarms so often.”
According to an official statement from UR, it appears that the cause of the fire alarms was a ventilation issue within several North Court rooms where the heating system triggered the alarms by burning dust particles.
The statement announced that air vents have been redirected to avoid pushing heated air towards the fire alarm sensors.
“We appreciate the patience of the residents of North Court as we resolve the technical problems that have resulted in a series of recent false fire alarms,” the university's statement read. “University Facilities staff are working closely with the construction contractor to replace the sensors in the alarms. We hope to have the problem resolved soon.”
On Dec. 4, another email was sent out to North Court residents from their area coordinator. They were advised that contractors would be entering their rooms during business hours starting Dec. 5 to adjust heating vents in an effort to prevent the problem.
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