A series of fire drills organized by Williams Campus Security and the Williamstown Fire Department was conducted on April 13.
Each fall and spring, each dormitory on campus is tested to ensure all students are able to properly exit within an allotted time.
The security department split into two groups, each containing several campus officers, a fire marshal, a student timer, an alarm technician and one security head who led the entire operation. Both groups tackled several small buildings and then joined together in order to time larger buildings such as Morgan Hall and Mission Park.
“Fire drills involve running from building to building, seeing students as they scurry out of the building dissatisfied and confused as to why so many security officers were in front of their dorm,” Sheraz Choudhary ’00, one of the student timers, commented.
At each building, the head security officer strategically placed other officers at each exit along with the fire marshal and a student timer. When everyone was in place the alarm technician was told to sound the alert, which was activated via a control panel located in each individual building.
After the alarm was sounded officers proceeded through the building, making sure every student had evacuated.
“The students responded quickly and in most cases were not left standing outside of their buildings for more than five minutes,” Assistant Director of Security David Boyer noted.
Students are required to leave their room, and those who did not were reported and will be sent to the Dean’s office.
Times were recorded both when the final student and the final officer left the building. Students who refused to leave were not counted in the final times unless it was not an isolated incident.
However, officer times were affected by tardy students. If too many students were tardy, the building is forced to do a re-evaluation at a later date, and the charges are billed to the house for reconvening the officers, technician and fire marshal.
Although most buildings are expected to be completely clear in under three minutes, additional time is granted for such large buildings as Mission Park, where many officers must run through rooms and the volume of students is much greater. Though security officers and observers seemed pleased by the periodic alarms and lights, those who had to evacuate were much less pleased.
“There’s really no reason to make us get out of our rooms,” commented Brian Werner ’01. “[So] why do they do this to us?”
Those living in Prospect were especially annoyed, as there have been several false alarms within the past month.
“Prospect of all places does not need a fire drill,” Melina Evans ’00 said.
In the past the drills were conducted over the course of three nights, but with better organization the security department has been able to consolidate the process down to a single night. The alarm systems in each building differ, but the newer systems are less vulnerable to false alarms, thus improving reaction time among the student population.
Special provisions have been made for students with handicaps, including adding strobe lights and bed shakers to the new sirens which oscillate in frequency.