Fire safety measures in on-campus housing have been revamped since the infamous Towers incident, said UCF communications coordinator.
“Lately, students have chosen not to leave their apartment when a fire alarm has sounded,” said Courtney Gilmartin, communications coordinator for UCF News and Information.
In response to this, the university has taken an active stance on improving student awareness for emergency protocols. Towers residents have received notice that housing will not conduct any more unannounced fire drills for the remainder of the semester.
“That was a joint decision between housing and our environmental health and safety folks,” Gilmartin said.
By doing this, Gilmartin said, the university hopes to aide with the anxiety of on-campus residents after the incident, especially those students living in the Towers.
“If the fire alarm does go off, it’s not us testing,” Gilmartin said. “It’s likely a real emergency and they need to leave the building.”
However, some are not convinced that this new system will provide any major improvements.
“I usually go somewhere else on campus,” said Lisamarie Grafe, UCF student and resident of the Towers, referring to when an alarm sounds. “They take too long and are always at inconvenient times.”
In addition, contrary to the university’s concern of student anxiety, a month may have been enough time for calming the nerves of residents.
“It feels so distant,” said Rachel Jeter, UCF student and resident of the Towers, “since nothing actually happened.”
This proved to be the common consensus among many of the students.
“It’s not too surprising considering how big the school is,” said Sandeep Bala, UCF student and Tower 3 computer lab monitor. “I don’t feel unsafe.”
As far as any concern, it seems as though residents are merely annoyed with the frequency of the drills and false alarms.
“One time I set off the fire alarm by accident,” said Ben Babchick, UCF student and resident of the Towers. “We were bringing a cake to my friend, and as we were running the wind blew out the candles, setting off the whole building.”
Even while the university is posting notices of when the fire drills will occur, it doesn’t seem as though it is happening on schedule.
“They were 45 minutes late on the last one, and it disrupted my lunch break,” Grafe said. “I never got to eat my tater tots.”
Public changes that the university has also implemented include increased patrol on campus, increased fire safety conversations with on-campus residents, and encouraging students to utilize the electronic alert system of text messages and emails, Gilmartin said.
“A lot of what’s going on is internal review,” Gilmartin said. “It’s hard to kind of articulate what the long term changes might be just because it’s still so fresh for all of us.”