Students who stayed through Douglas Hall fire could face consequences

Mallory Kutnick, Contributing Writer

Though most residents left the building after a fire in the attic of Douglas Hall Tuesday evening, those who remained may reap the penalties for disregarding their own safety.

In an article of The Daily Eastern News, University Police Sgt. Ryan Risinger said some students did not follow evacuation procedures.

“There are some students who did not respond to the fire alarm,” he said.

Mark Hudson, director of university housing and dining services, said such penalties begin with a talk with the Office of Student Standards.

Residents who continue to ignore fire alarms after speaking to Student Standards could incur fines or face probation or community service, Hudson said.

“Our job is to make sure we offer the safest environment possible,” he said. “We take that responsibility very seriously.”

Hudson said finding students still inside the building during a fire involves knocking on doors and looking for lights left on and people visible in windows.

The fire department decides when residents can safely return to their halls.

Housing has several preventative measures and resident training programs in place.

These include regular floor meetings, fire drills at the start of each semester, tests of the alarm system on the first Tuesday of every month and emergency plans posted throughout each building.

Hudson stressed the importance of preventing injury over ignoring the inconvenience of having to leave. He said some people may be reluctant to go outside, especially in cold weather and not of their own accord.

In the case of a small, isolated fire such as Tuesday’s, however, students were safe in the lobby and were not required to step foot outdoors, Hudson said.

Hudson said unexpected alarms can catch people off guard and may contribute to an unwillingness to evacuate.

“You might be a little disoriented,” he said. “Then you know what to do.”

In the end, though, Hudson said leaving the premises is simply a matter of free will.

“We had some students who just chose not to leave,” he said. “They make assumptions that might be dangerous for them.”



Mallory Kutnick can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].