Residence Life assures fire drills are for student safety

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    After several fire alarms in the Greek residence halls this semester, some students suspect the alarms are being triggered so that room searches can be conducted once students evacuate.

    But TCU officials warn that students should take any alarm seriously and that the purpose of that fire alarm is for student safety, not to confiscate contraband.

    Craig Allen, Director of Housing & Residence Life, said that federal law requires one fire drill each semester, and that is exactly what TCU does. Allen recognizes the danger of multiple false alarms after his experiences while working at Seton Hall University.

    Allen was the Director of Housing and Residence Life at Seton Hall University in 2000 when a deadly dormitory fire occurred. According to The Chronicle, students chose not to evacuate because of the numerous alarms that had gone off earlier that week.

    The fire resulted in three student fatalities and multiple burn injuries. Investigators determined that the fire was a result of students smoking in the dorm.

    Allen said he never wants to go through an experience like that again nor does he want to see TCU students experience something that horrific.

    "We do one drill per building. One and only one. Once that drill is done and over, if an alarm goes off, it's an emergency," said Allen.

    Allen said that the students will be made aware of when to expect the practice drill.

    “If a fire alarm goes off in a building, students should assume it’s a fire or an emergency," said Allen.

    Tarrant County Fire Marshal Randy Renois said that fire drills are meant to encourage people to pay attention and leave a building as quickly as possible.

    Renois said that if the purpose of the fire drills was to find contraband, that would be abusing the purpose of the drill.

    "The drill is to get people out safe, not to find stuff," said Renois.

    Although students have complained about candles and other contraband being confiscated during fire drills, Allen said that if there is contraband, like a candle, in plain sight during a fire drill, the hall directors are supposed to confiscate it.

    “Fires kill kids. Candles aren’t allowed. If there’s a candle, we will confiscate it. It’s that simple,” said Allen.