Residents of Belmont’s newest residence hall, Tall Hall, were left in a state of confusion Tuesday night when a malfunctioning smoke detector led to an evacuation of the building.
The malfunction happened in a stairwell at the top of the building, and residents were evacuated “out of an abundance of caution,” said Steve Lasley, Belmont’s vice president for finance and operations.
Tall Hall resident Megan Leslie received a message from another girl on her floor who was told by someone in the lobby that she needed to evacuate the building, Leslie said.
Because no alarm went off throughout the building, Leslie went to other rooms on her floor in attempt to decide what to do.
“Some residents did not hear the alarm or evacuate because the ‘alarm’ wasn’t a fire alarm but a supervisory alert due to the device malfunction. The supervisory alert does not sound throughout the building but rather in the impacted area,” said Lasley.
Of the 610 upperclassmen residing in the building, only a small number actually evacuated, Leslie said.
Her resident assistant had not heard anything about the alert, but advised her floor to go ahead and leave the building.
Another Tall Hall resident, Maggie Fitzgerald, evacuated the building with other residents on her floor. They were met by resident assistants in the lobby of the building and two campus security officers outside, but they were not told what was happening, Fitzgerald said.
“Especially in a new building, there needs to be a good line of communication between the emergency people, the RDs, the RAs, and the residents. I wasn’t sure if it was an isolated fire, an electrical thing or gas leak,” said Fitzgerald.
Leslie also didn’t know what was happening throughout the whole evacuation process, she said.
“We still don’t really know what happened or why we had to evacuate.”
Lasley confirmed the fire alarms in the building are all functional.
“Facilities Management Services, Enterprise Electric and alarm contractor Simplex are looking at the system to determine the cause in order to prevent this from happening in the future,” he said.
This article written by Cole Abshier