Monday, September 14, 2015- On Wednesday on September 9th, Resident Assistants reported to Kenneth Blackwell, Director of Public Safety, that a fire alarm was going off on the first floor, coming from West 12- the fire panel noted nothing out of the ordinary and let the fire department know to cancel the request.
Shortly after 10pm, the same fire alarm was reset. At 10:48, the fire alarm went off for a third time due to a failed thermal heat detector. Ryan Martini, Facilities Director, called to have the technician to replace the faulty part. Semans, the security company contracted to NDNU, sent out a technician at 12:50am to repair the heat sensor detector. The students were evacuated before housing received the official clearance from the fire department per standard procedure- according to Kenneth Blackwell. There are 8 rooms in New Hall with strobe lights in the ADA disability rooms, one of those students Gerlinda Herring, suffered a severe panic attack due to a strobe light going off in her room.
“ It [the fire alarm] is right above my head where I sleep, when it went off. I was paralyzed with fear. I couldn’t breathe, I was afraid to go outside my room. I had to text one of my friends to come over and help me because of the overwhelming anxiety it caused me.” Gerlinda set a meeting with the Dean of Students, Dean Jean; on the matter of moving her from her current room now into a room that does not have a strobe light- Herring’s request has been approved.
“The fire alarms are sensitive enough to be set off by the steam of a shower in some cases.” said Blackwell. It is still unclear though whether students who currently live in rooms with strobe lights will be able to be re assigned due to lack of housing availability in new hall.