University officials are searching for ways to fix Lowell House's oversensitive new fire alarm system, which some say is currently more dangerous than the one it replaced.
Since the system was installed last summer in response to a Cambridge City Council ordinance requiring smoke detectors in every room and hallway, even dust and cigarette smoke have triggered the House's hallway smoke detectors. "They've gone off more times than we can count." Master William H. Bossert '59 said yesterday.
Students have began to ignore the frequent alarms, and the Cambridge fire department has started responding with less than half its normal complement of equipment. Bossert added, saying. "If we had a real fire, we wouldn't have a ladder truck to get people down."
The Bossert Plan
University officials have been considering a proposal put forward by Bossert last week to remove smoke detectors from dormitory entry ways, while leaving striker boxes in hallways for residents to pull in case of fires.
Under Bossert's plan, individual smoke detectors would also be left in students' rooms, but these do not trigger the main dormitory system.
Robert Saltonstall associate vice president for operations, said yesterday University officials have been "seriously considering. Bossert's plan, but he added that University approval is now unlikely since he recently teamed that disconnecting the detectors would entail dismantling the entire system.
In addition Harvard's Fire Protection Engineer David E. Breen, who would have to approve the plan said yesterday it violates the recently adopted city ordinance. David E. Sullivan the Cambridge City Councilor who proposed the regulation confirmed that removing the hallway detectors would violate the law.
Although there is no specific alternate plan currently under consideration. University officials said yesterday they will find a solution to the problem even if it requires spending more money.
Bossert noted that the problem may be the installation of the Lowell House system rather than the system itself since Winthrop's Standish Hall has the same alarm system but has not had Lowell House's problems.
Breen also said he hopes the situation would resolve itself once workers left the building and student's became sensitized and were more careful about smoking and fireplace smoke.