Some residents of The Towers said they have noticed an increase in fire alarms going off recently. According to students, burning trash, wire failure and burnt food were causes of at least three fire alarms this semester.
Zoe Ferrari Thomas, a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences and Towers resident, said the fire alarms in Towers are an inconvenience, especially late at night. Last Friday a fire caused the entire east tower to evacuate from around 3 a.m. to 4 a.m.
“It’s definitely an inconvenience, especially when it goes off really late when I’m asleep,” Thomas said.
She said when there are fires in Towers, Res Life posts a notice near the entrance of the building explaining how and when the fire happened.
“I do think they’re doing the best that they can, in my opinion, like better safe than sorry,” Thomas said. “It’s just like the timing of everything has been inconvenient, but it’s not the worst thing in the world.”
Although students have voiced complaints about frequent fire alarms in Towers, Thomas Gorham, fire safety officer at the BU Environmental Health and Safety Department, said the amount of fire-related incidents on campus this semester is typical.
“Year over year we have a handful of fires and most of them are related to cooking issues in the apartment-style dorms or people burning stuff in a microwave that sets off the smoke detector,” Gorham said. “There’s no increase in the number of fires,”
Gorham addressed a recent fire that occurred in Towers on Friday, March 17 saying it was caused by a student who burned food in a microwave, threw the burnt food in the trash, which smoldered and caught fire in the trash bin.
Tim Riedl, a freshman in Questrom School of Business and Towers resident, said the late-night fire alarms are frustrating.
“It’s pretty frustrating especially because the two times that it’s happened at night it’s been at like … 2 a.m.,” Riedl said.“But at the same time, it’s the right precautions to take to make sure that nobody gets hurt.”
Riedl said that during the St. Patrick’s Day trash can fire, Towers residents were stuck outside for about two hours.
“We were still outside for a good two hours from like 3 a.m. to about 5 [a.m.] and that’s just really frustrating,” he said. “I guess it was okay since it was just a weekend night, but if that was something that had happened before a midterm or a final or something … [it would be] at least a little bit annoying.”
Jessica Proctor, a freshman in Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, said the fire alarms in Towers have gone off at least four times this year — one of which was due to faulty wiring.
“I had class at 8 a.m. on Friday, and I was exhausted the entire day because I lost so much sleep dealing with that faulty alarm,” Proctor said.
Gorham said the Dean of Students administers fines or disciplinary actions for dorm fires.
“The fire alarm systems on campus are inspected quarterly by a third-party consultant,” Gorham said. “The fire alarm company that facilities maintains that contract with … inspects and tests those alarms to make sure the smoke detectors are working properly and the systems are all working properly.”
Gorham said students should be alert when they are cooking to prevent fires.
“Pay attention to cooking on the stovetop, oven [and] microwave,” Gorham said. “Make sure you’re not putting metal in the microwaves and things of that nature.”