Series of fire alarms lead to several evacuations


Rebekah Nelson

Irwin Hall residents were evacuated late Monday night as the Baldwin City volunteer Fire Department responded to the call. A seizure was reported around the time and location of the evacuation. It is unknown whether or not the two incidents are related.

Over the course of the long weekend, Baker University residence halls faced a series of unrelated fire alarm evacuations. On Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, students were evacuated for various amounts of time ranging from 15 minutes to over an hour. 

Beginning on Saturday, there were two sets of alarms triggered in the Horn and Markham Apartments at 11 p.m. and 11:38 p.m. Early Sunday morning, the apartments were evacuated again at 3 a.m. and then at 10:30 a.m. Gessner Hall experienced fire alarms at 11:30 a.m. on Monday morning and Irwin Hall residents were evacuated later in the evening at 10:09 p.m. for over an hour.

Apartment resident, Senior Tiana Tinari explains that students typically experience more fire alarms at the beginning of the year as technical issues get resolved. “The evacuations cause interruptions when we’re sleeping and studying, and while it can be inconvenient, I would rather deal with the alarms now to ensure they work during an emergency,” Tinari said.

The Baldwin City fire department responded to the alarms and investigated the cause. Director of Residence Life, Nick Goodman, explained that the alarm systems were triggered by separate unrelated events that led each hall to be evacuated. There is no evidence to suggest a failure of the overall fire alarm systems. 

Goodman explains that a variety of reasons resulted in these evacuations. “Some of [the causes] are unknown,” Goodman said. “Some were excessively hot showers with clouds of steam. Other alarms are suspected to be caused by students choosing to smoke marijuana or tobacco in the buildings based on the odors during the fire department’s investigations.”

The 2021-2022 student handbook outlines that smoking is prohibited in all university-owned buildings and housing facilities. 

Goodman praises the first responders who assisted in evacuations Monday night. “Our volunteer fire department is top-notch and always responds quickly and professionally,” Goodman said. 

More evacuations occurred in the apartments on Tuesday morning at 6:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. Students in the residence halls should expect two controlled and unannounced fire drills a semester as dictated by law.