December 4, 2020

The alarm that cried, ‘Fire’

A fire alarm went off in Webster Hall on March 6. As usual, it was a false alarm.

This has to stop. I’ve heard this story too many times, especially in neighboring Maria Hall.

Here’s what has happened to me, and probably to those of you living on campus as well:

As I lay in my warm and comfortable bed, I drifted off in hopes of getting a solid seven hours of sleep. It wasn’t until 1 a.m. that the fire alarm decided to falsely ring out in that high-pitched shrill. The ring of the alarm was not uncommon but certainly unpleasant as ever to the residents of Maria Hall. For a fire alarm, this one calls false fires pretty often. That’s good because it teaches residents how to evacuate the building from a dangerous situation right?

No, it actually does the opposite. Call it, “the alarm that cried, ‘Fire.’”

Let’s review the tall-tale story of the little boy who cried wolf. After long, nobody believed the boy because he constantly made false accusations. So when the time came that there actually was a wolf, he was in trouble and nobody came to his aid. A lot of Maria Hall residents have become so tired of these false drills that they completely ignore them. R.A.s get themselves out of bed and pound on every door to wake sleeping residents.

Still, some choose to stay in their rooms and ignore this call of danger. This is a problem. Now, think about if there was a real fire alarm in Maria Hall. You wouldn’t know a real alarm from a fake one because of how often they happen. The alarms don’t happen every week, but they do happen often enough that residents no longer believe them.

What I think every resident wants to know is the reason the alarms keep sounding. Anyone who has experienced a Maria Hall fire alarm knows they are most likely always at night.

After going downstairs and outside away from the building you can always expect public safety to drive up five minutes later. They are usually followed by the Webster Groves fire department. They stay for around two minutes, decide it’s a false alarm and then leave. After around 10 minutes or so of standing out in the cold night air, students are let back into the building.

When you are awoken by the fire alarm it may not seem like a big deal the first couple of times. After all, it is a practice of safety that should indeed be practiced. But the problem is, for Maria Hall, these false alarms are not drills that are testing our speed and safety.

These are mistakes that aren’t supposed to happen. Not only are the false alarms causing residents to develop these dangerous habits, but they are also incredibly annoying. Nobody wants to get out of bed in the middle of the night, especially for an alarm they know is false.

I have been given some common explanations as to why these annoying alarms go off at times when Marletto’s isn’t open. Some people say it is hot steam that sets off the alarms.  Whatever is the cause, we can come to the conclusion that these alarms are rather touchy. This may be a requirement since Maria Hall is located in the same building as a dining hall.

But one thing is for sure. There must be something done to make these false alarms less frequent. The bottom line is, these false alarms are causing residents to develop dangerous habits.

When a fire alarm goes off at 3 a.m., residents know it is false. So some stay in their rooms. If there were a real fire in Maria Hall, by the time residents figured out it was real, it may be too late for them.

I was telling a story earlier of my interrupted night due to a common Maria Hall false alarm. It may come as no surprise that I didn’t get out of bed. Sure it was dangerous. But, lying there, I decided to take my chances.

I was right about it being false, as usual.

Stephanie Lefler is a sophomore broadcast journalism major and a staff writer for The Journal.

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