The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

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Pamela Smith, managing editor.
Column | In the blink of an eye, in the click of a shutter
By Pamela Smith, Managing Editor • April 20, 2024
Fresh Perspective | Final Farewell
By Julia Smeltzer, Digital Manager • April 19, 2024

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Get Pitt and Oakland news in your inbox, three times a week.

Pamela Smith, managing editor.
Column | In the blink of an eye, in the click of a shutter
By Pamela Smith, Managing Editor • April 20, 2024
Fresh Perspective | Final Farewell
By Julia Smeltzer, Digital Manager • April 19, 2024

Frequent fire alarms disrupt daily life for Tower B residents

One+of+the+Towers+on+Pitt%E2%80%99s+campus.
TPN File Photo
One of the Towers on Pitt’s campus.

The issue of frequently activated fire alarms in Tower B has caused disruption for residents since the beginning of the semester, including disruptions in their daily routines and extracurricular activities. 

Kylie Gardner, a first-year engineering major and Tower B resident, highlighted how these alarms have impacted her punctuality in class. She recounted the frequency of fire alarms at their worst, sometimes with multiple alarms in the same day. 

“I think there’s been three fire alarms in a day and four or five in a week,” Gardner said. “One time, it was a little bit before 11 [a.m.], and they were trying to rush us out, but I had to get to class at 11.” 

Gardner’s situation is not uncommon. She explained how several residents on her floor had to evacuate the building at “awkward” times, including when “some of [her] friends were in the shower during a fire alarm and [they] all had to rush out.” 

Ryan Clarici, a first-year math major and a resident of Tower B, had similar experiences with the alarms causing disruptions to his extracurricular activities. 

“The worst that I woke up for was 6:00 a.m,” Clarici said. “I was also going to band at that time, so it was screwing up my schedule with that.” 

A University spokesperson explained that many of the frequent fire alarms are tests relating to The Eatery’s renovations. The spokesperson noted that the University plans to take new safety measures as a result of the tests.

“Students will be notified by email of this occurrence and will not need to exit the building for this test,” the spokesperson said. “We are working to resolve testing activation on floor two. Remaining floors will not be activated.”

Clarici noted that on the 14th floor, the frequency of fire alarms has decreased  in recent weeks. 

“On the 14th floor, the alarm hasn’t gone off as often,” Clarici said. “I think it’s noticeable there have been efforts.”

Maggie Dowds, a first-year nursing major, shared that she is rarely affected by the alarms and rarely participated in the evacuations. 

“I haven’t really been affected by them,” Dowds said. “It was annoying that one day when they were testing for like, two hours … but that was the only time I was annoyed by it. I feel like I’ve probably been here twice when it’s going on … I usually stay in my dorm.” 

The University has attempted to combat this issue by placing signage in Towers hallways reminding students of the policy for triggered fire alarms. 

The posters read, “Students, when you hear the fire alarm, you must evacuate the building using the stairs. Fire alarms should be acknowledged and not ignored.”

Students who do participate in the evacuations said they feel more inconvenienced by the frequency of the alarms. Clarici explained that he had participated in every evacuation no matter the recurrence of the alarms. 

“I’ve gone outside for all of them,” Clarici said. “So I walk all the way up and down 14 floors.”

To alleviate the ongoing disruptions, University administration has initiated multi-hourlong tests to identify and fix the issues. In an email sent to Towers residents this week, Panther Central apologized for the numerous evacuations caused by activated alarms during the semester and explained their progress in fixing the issue. 

“We recognize that many fire alarms were activated [this semester] which have resulted in evacuations causing additional stress to our residents,” the email states. “We have worked with our contractor to correct the deficiencies and believe we are now good to go.”

Typically, in addition to an email notification, Towers residents are notified via the PA system before and after tests occur. 

While Pitt claims to have corrected deficiencies in fire alarms on most floors in Towers, residents on floor two of Tower B are still dealing with interruptions from fire alarms frequently. 

Katie, a first-year chemistry major and a resident of floor two, reports consistent fire alarm triggers despite the University stating that the issue is being addressed. 

“They literally go off all the time, like, all night,” Katie said. “It’s getting so annoying.”