When a fire alarm went off at the Hall on Virginia Avenue Sept. 27 and more than 100 residents failed to evacuate – many because they said they didn’t hear the alarm – the possibility of a faulty alarm system at HOVA became disturbingly apparent.
University officials acted improperly by citing residents who didn’t evacuate the building – they will have to take fire safety classes – before investigating their claims that the alarm wasn’t audible. But that is inconsequential compared to the scenario of what would have happened if there had been an actual fire at HOVA instead of the harmless steam that triggered the alarm.
At a fire drill at Thurston Hall, about 15 residents were cited for failing to leave their rooms in a timely fashion, while the number of citations at Mitchell Hall ranged from 10 to 15. If several times that number failed to evacuate HOVA, common sense leads to the conclusion that there probably is some problem with the building’s fire alarm system.
The problems with HOVA have been numerous. First the University rushed to convert the hotel into a residence hall. The dining hall was not opened by the start of classes. Fourteen freshmen were forced to move because of leaky ceilings caused by structural problems.
The newest problem at HOVA makes all of the other difficulties seem trivial. University officials are misguided in documenting freshmen who claim that they didn’t hear the alarm.
The most important issue for GW is to test HOVA’s fire alarm system and if it proves deficient, simply install a new alarm.