It is perhaps a college student’s greatest inconvenience when the slightest bit of smoke sets off fire alarms in a residence hall, sending half-asleep students out into the cold, dark night in their pajamas because that guy burned his popcorn.
Junior Danielle Olivero lives in Crescent, where 29 fire alarms have gone off this academic year. She says the lack of ventilation and range hoods in both Crescent and Westview may be a reason why the alarms go off so often.
“The smoke doesn’t directly leave the building and gets kind of trapped in there,” Olivero said. “It gets smokey while cooking. We have to open the windows usually.”
But range hoods are not required in individual dorms and the residence halls
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are built to Connecticut safety codes, according to Hamden Fire Marshal Dennis Harrison.
“Someone down the hall, whatever they’re making, it travels through the vents that are there and into our rooms,” Olivero said. “It doesn’t have a way to leave the building.”
Figuring out how to install ventilation to the outside would be a process both pricey and problematic, according to Harrison.
“The problem is having to vent to the outside and the logistics of trying to move the air to the outside and then make up the air to replace it inside,” Harrison said.
Olivero doesn’t think it is necessary to go through this process.
“It is what it is,” Olivero said. “Besides, you’re talking about young students who don’t really know how to cook.”
Despite these cloudy cooking conditions, Public Safety Chief David Barger doesn’t think range hoods are necessary either.
“If there’s any smoke anywhere in the building, I want an alarm to go off,” Barger said. “Just look at fires in the past where you’ve had a great deal of damage, you’ve had students injured, you’ve even had students killed in those fires. Are fire alarms at times inconvenient? Sure, but when is a convenient time for a fire alarm?”
Hamden Fire Chief David Berardesca said that if the lack of ventilation makes fire alarms more prone to go off, it will make students safer.
“The good thing is the fire alarms are doing their job,” Berardesca said. “It’s better an inconvenience than a tragedy.”