False Fire Alarms Plague Eliot

Eliot House residents say they have been plagued by a series of false fire alarms this fall, with at least one almost every week and often up to two or three in a seven-day period.

An alarm went off just yesterday morning, and two went off Monday, house residents said.

House superintendent Hank Slonia attributed the frequent alarms to the dirt raised by construction in the House.

There is "no problem with the alarms, only dust sets them off," Slonia said.

But a source familiar with the situation said that while dust did appear to be the cause of Monday's fire alarms, the frequency of the alarms this fall almost certainly suggested human intervention.

House residents said the frequent alarms have been disruptive.

Yuval Segal '97, who had ski practice at 5 a.m. last Sunday, was awakened by a fire alarm at 12:30 a.m. once this fall, he said.

Another time, the alarm went off and he "couldn't sleep through it and had to go outside in the cold without being warmly dressed," Segal said. Segal joked that the alarm "was the best attended house function so far this year."

Other students said they were concerned that residents no longer pay attention to the frequent alarms.

"The biggest problem is that we have them so often that people begin to ignore them," said Kathryn Mansfield '96. The alarms sound "usually when I'm asleep," Mansfield said.

Because of the frequency of the alarms, they are now disregarded and "if it was something serious, we'd all be in big trouble," said John P. Brown '95.

Not all interruptions caused by alarms were unwelcome, however.

Alberto C. Simpser '95 said he was at a party last week when an alarm started blaring.

But his hostess was happy about the interruption, he said, because she had "wanted to go to sleep before the alarm went off."

Students say schoolwork has been hard to do lately.

Benjamin A. Siris '96 said he was "studying, with major, major work to do" last week when an alarm went off. He called the alarms "damn inconvenient."

Several students said they were sure the alarms were an undergraduate prank.

There "must be some problem with the system that needs to be investigated or some students just like to be outside at 1 a.m.," said Hillary T. Coyne '95.

"Whoever pulled them should be failed," said Joshua D. Liston '95. They are a "terrible annoyance, and completely unsafe because nobody leaves their rooms anymore," said Liston.