Alarms Hit Dunster, Mather

Late-Night fire Sirens Leave Students Angry, Powerless

The uncommon but annoying fire- alarm ritual of getting out of bed and shuffling outside into the bitter cold has become all too familiar to the irate residents of Dunster and Mather houses in recent weeks.

Dunster has had four fire alarms in the past two weeks. MAther has had eight since intersession. All the alarms have occured late at night and ealry in the morning, according to students in the houses.

"Oh my God, I'm going to kill someone," said Kusumarn Thamongkol '95 of Dunster House, summing up student sentiment concerning the alarms.

"They completely suck," said Jonathan S. Katzman '95, also Dunster.

In addition to the anger engendered by the blaring sirens, students are frustrated by their feelings of powerlessness.

"There's no one to complain to and there's no explaination. It would make me feel better if I knew what these were about," said on eDunster resident.

"There's really not much we can do about it," said Christopher G. Evers '95, who serves on the Mather House COmmittee. "People can just come and complain to us."

It is unclear if the alarms have been maliciously pulled, if they have been set off by students smoking under the detectors, or if they are malfunctions of the aging systems, Evers said.

The Cambridge Fire Department said there have been no fires in the houses.

Lacking offical avenues, some students have tried to take the matter into their own hands.

This weekend flyers posted in the base of the mAther tower declared whomever pulled the fire alarms should stop, and if those who pulled the alarms cannot deal with living in a house with normal people, they should get out, Fazal said.

For most students, though, the fire alarms seem to have induced a resigned apathy.

"The worst part of it is that they happen so often people don't even go out anymore," said Katzman.

"Mather? Mather doesn't burn. Even the rugs are smolder proof," said one Mather resident who sleeps through the ear- splitting sirens.

According to a member of the Cambridge Fire Department who identified himself only as :operator number five," the penalty for a false fire alarm is a $500 fine or one- year imprisonment.

If the penalty were up to the operator number five, however, the penalty would be stiffer.

"We would hang you in a public ceremony at the Commons, and we would dismember you first," he said.