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Fire Alarms Triggered at Dorms, Prank Suspected

By Valery K. Brobbey

Fire alarms at Baker House, Burton-Conner and Simmons Hall were set off simultaneously early Friday morning by unidentified parties, forcing residents into the street. As a result, MIT may be fined by the city of Cambridge, though it has not been yet.

All three alarms were triggered from pull stations in the dormitories, not smoke detectors, according to MIT Police Captain David Carlson. The odd nature of the situation “leads us to believe they were deliberate acts,” Associate Director of Housing Dennis Collins said, though MIT is unsure whether it was a prank or not.

Carlson said that at this time the MIT Police does not have a list of possible suspects. “To be honest, I don’t know what the motivation might be,” he said.

Carlson said that although three simultaneous alarms from MIT dormitories sound suspicious, “the fire department always takes alarms seriously,” because steam, dust, and smoke can “trip fire alarms.”

Collins said that the activation of three alarms at once presented a problem for the fire department because “they had to dispatch trucks from all over the city.”

According to Collins, it is “very possible they will fine us.”

Carlson said that he does not know if MIT will be fined, but the fire department may be frustrated, since they take their work seriously.

According to a police report from Carlson, the Simmons alarm was triggered from the third floor stairwell at 1:17 a.m., while the Burton-Conner alarm was triggered from the first floor at 1:20 a.m. The location of the Baker alarm, triggered at 1:18 a.m., was not included in the police report.

Carlson said that the police department does not intend to “go around telling people not to pull fire alarms.” “At this stage in life everyone knows not to pull fire alarms,” he said. Carlson added that such pranks only hurt the residents of the dormitory.

Carlson counts on the vigilance of dormitory residents to prevent another occurrence of this incident. “The best eyes are people in the houses,” said Carlson. He said that he would urge dormitory residents to “give us a call if something is out of place.”

At the time the fire alarms went off, residents were busily completing homework and studying for tests on Friday. “I was studying for my 6.004 exam,” said Jules D. Walter ’08, resident of Baker House, who described the incident as an “inappropriate joke.” “We had to stay outside for at least half an hour.”

Adelaide S. Calbry-Muzyka ’09, a resident of Burton Conner House who was working on a problem set, called the prank “obnoxious” and mentioned that the fire alarm was pulled when it was raining. Calbry-Muzyka said that one of her friends was sick and asleep at the time the alarm went off.

David A. Nedzel ’07, Dormitory Council president and resident of Simmons Hall, described the incident as a “serious safety issue.” “It’s unfortunate people do that,” Nedzel added. Nedzel said he and some of his friends went to Westgate Apartments to seek shelter from the rain and “noticed some other people walking across the parking lot to Next House.”