Losing sleep over the Fire Bandit

russell towers at fitchburg state

Fire alarms at Russell Towers have sent students out into the cold. (photo by Kenny Kelly)

By Randall Harris
It would seem that the Fitchburg Fire Bandit has struck again. Within the past several weeks, Russell Towers has been plagued with four fire-related incidents, causing outrage among the students living there.
“Why are people so inconsiderate?” asks Jillian Clukey, who had to venture out into the cold rain in her pajamas.
On a Sunday in late January, around 3 a.m., fire alarms went off in Russell Towers, forcing around a thousand unprepared students into 8-degree temperatures until the issue was resolved and the building deemed safe enough to re-enter.

This and subsequent evacuations caused tensions to rise between the students – who feared for the consequences of being out in frigid temperatures – and the residential staff, who were following guidelines.

With the confusion and disorder, there have been questions as to how effectively the people in charge handled the situation.

Tom Clark, the operations manager for Housing and Residential Services, wants students to know that every fire drill on campus must be considered a matter of safety and that every student should respond accordingly. “My deepest hope is that students will put safety first during these kinds of events,” says Clark. Building directors and resident assistants have said that during these events, everything was handled as well as it could have been.

When there are fire drills during inclement weather, students are encouraged to seek shelter within Holmes Dining Hall or within their cars until the situation is deemed safe.
Many students wondered why it took so long to be readmitted to the building after the first fire-alarm incident of the semester. This was, in fact, due to a group of students who re-entered the building without permission, thus causing the situation to be prolonged.

Students must also realize that the process of making sure every resident is evacuated is part of the fire-safety protocol, according to Clark. Currently, Housing is working on a plan to make the fire-evacuation process much smoother so that the amount of time students are displaced will be shortened.
The culprit who has set off these alarms has certainly inconvenienced the community. “We’d appreciate it if the person or people responsible would come forward,” says Clark. There is an active, ongoing investigation into these fire-related events and if students become aware of any information that may be helpful to the investigation they should report it to the housing office near Aubuchon Hall or to their building director, so that this issue can be quickly resolved and Fitchburg State residents can rest easier.

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