Following a string of false fire alarms in East Campus in the past two weeks, Columbia will now temporarily station Public Safety officers in the residence hall 24 hours a day to serve as “fire guards,” according to an email sent Wednesday evening to EC residents by Columbia Housing, Residential Life, and Fire Safety.
The email announced that, as of 11 p.m. that same night, Public Safety officers will be on hand 24/7 to immediately investigate every smoke detector that goes off.
If the guard “finds smoke or fire conditions,” they will manually activate the alarm bell system to signal a full building evacuation. If there is a false detection, the email said, no alarm bell will sound and residents will remain undisturbed.
However, early in the morning after the email was sent, a false fire alarm sounded in EC for a few minutes before being shut off.
The new measures are meant to reduce the number of erroneous fire alarms, which administrators said were caused by “pervasive condensation” on fire safety electrical wires. In the event of a scheduled fire alarm test—which will continue to take place—the University will notify students in advance so that they know not to evacuate ahead of time.
Housing and Fire Safety officials have also begun planning meetings with EC residents to discuss the issues with the alarms and to find a more permanent solution.