Toronto Fire Services respond to a fire alarm on campus. PHOTO: Jackie Hong

Students snoozing through fire alarms

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By Dylan Freeman- Grist

After speaking to dozens of students living in Pitman Hall, The Eyeopener has found that a large number of residents are not being woken up by fire alarms and drills that occur during sleeping hours.

“It was pretty scary because if it was an actual fire then I would have been in the building and no one would have known,” said Jackie Mckay, a first year journalism student who has slept through multiple alarms in Pitman Hall this semester.

There is no obligation for a landlord to ensure tenants have vacated their rooms in the case of a fire, a fact which extends to Ryerson Student Services and senior student residence advisers. They, in the case of a fire, “assist when they can” but have no obligation to, according Student Housing Services.

The onus, then, is on students to ensure they remove themselves from residence in case of a fire, with no measures in place to prevent them from sleeping through drills, false alarms and quite possibly fires.

“It’s not really fair because it’s not a choice not to leave if you don’t wake up,” said Mckay. “I think they could change the way the fire alarms are done so they’re within everyone’s room, or change the system so that it is more likely everyone will get out.”

While many students wake with each alarm, students in specific room types, such as ones with small hallways in the corner of apartment clusters or “pods” appear to be particularly susceptible to sleeping through the fire alert system.

“I’d be very concerned because you can’t hear it in my room, the corner rooms, you don’t hear it,” said Mckay.

“I think if it’s common knowledge that they know which rooms you can’t hear them in they should install alarms,” said Graeme Montgomery, another first-year student who slept through an alarm.

The trend has been noted in a semester abundant with false alarms at Pitman Hall, many of which most likely originated from either technical difficulties or cooking accidents according to Jen Gonzales, residence marketing and assignments coordinator.

The prevalence of false alarms has given rise to another disturbing trend, with many students opting to remain in their rooms for the duration of the drill instead of exiting the residence as per code, a move that could result in fines from Toronto Fire and Emergency Services.

“I know a lot of people who sleep through theirs, or decide to sleep through theirs, or decide to not go down just because it gets so annoying,” said a student in Pitman who chose to remain anonymous.

“Our message is very clear for all fire alarms, everyone should leave a building immediately or follow building announcements if any, upon becoming aware of an alarm,” said Tanya Fermin Poppleton, manager security and emergency services, via email.

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