Rez dwellers busted for fire alarm snooze

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By Scott Roberts

By the end of the week Jen Norman will be $50 poorer and it’s not because she lost a bet.

It’s because she was sleeping.

Norman, a first-year architecture student, and about 40 other Pitman Hall residents are being fined by the student housing office for sleeping through a 4 a.m. fire alarm last Thursday.

Residents who slept through the false alarm are receiving notices this week about the pending charge that results in a $50 fine.

“I think it’s a joke that we’re getting fined for accidentally sleeping through a fire alarm,” said Norman. “It’s not our fault and we didn’t do anything wrong.”

Norman said although the fine may not seem like much money to the housing office, it’s a lot of money for students like her.

“I have a lot of extra costs that go on top of tuition and residence and food,” she said. “That $50 is a lot of money for a student.”

Norman said she didn’t know until Friday afternoon she was going to be charged for her failure to evacuate the building.

She said there was a lot of miscommunication between residents and staff as to when and why charges would be laid.

“The staff on our floor told us that if we were taken out of Pitman by a firefighter then we would be charged,” she said. “They never told us that if an R.A. woke us up we would be.”

Some students say the fire alarms weren’t working properly.

“I didn’t hear the alarm so I didn’t wake up,” said Angela Wilson, a first-year journalism student. “I’m not paying.”

Liza Nassim, the Ryerson housing manager, said all residence fire alarms are tested annually by a private fire company to ensure they are working properly.

Lucy Jakupi, Ryerson’s residence life facilitator, said those who inadvertently slept through the alarm should set up a system with their neighbours to ensure everyone is awake and able to evacuate.

“It isn’t up to staff members to wake everyone up,” she said. “It’s the residents’ own responsibility to make sure they wake up.”

Wrongly triggering a fire alarm in a Ryerson residence results in a $1,200 fine, which covers the cost incurred by the Toronto Fire Department. If no culprit is caught, the residence must cover the cost itself.

Despite complaints from students, Jakupi stands by the current fire safety policy.

“Our concern is to ensure everyone is evacuated from the building as quickly as possible,” she said. “Failure to evacuate the building is a federal offense and is taken seriously.”

Jakupi said students who have problems with the fine can meet with her, but that the housing office doesn’t generally make exceptions.

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