Vedder Hall riddled with wake-up calls, despite no fires

Jaxon White, News Section Co-Editor

Students and administrators can’t seem to pinpoint a single cause for recurring Vedder fire alarms, which have bedeviled the north campus building’s residents since the beginning of the Fall 2021 semester.

The University’s 2021 Security & Fire Safety Report revealed that Vedder Hall, a first-year residential area infamous amongst students for its repeated false fire alarms, did not have any active fires within the building throughout 2020. 

“Vedder Hall does tend to have a fair amount of fire alarms to be set off each year without an actual fire to occur,” community director of Vedder Hall Robert Leibel said in an emailed statement. “As a [predominantly] first-year building on campus, some residents are beginning to learn how to properly use their microwave to cook food within their room (overcooking popcorn or forgetting to add water in mac & cheese/ramen noodle cups, etc.) and may accidently set off the alarm.”

Leibel said some “criminal mischief” also sets off the alarm, which Public Safety investigates. 

Two year resident of Vedder Dariel Guzman ’24, is not surprised about the lack of fires when compared to the amount of times the alarm has been set off. “It is a constant thing that happens here,” Guzman said. “I think they’re relatively equal, maybe a little less this year [compared to last year] but I would say it is at more inconvenient times, like 2 a.m.” 

Guzman said popcorn can be a culprit, but he also suspects other activities. “I think it’s smoke downstairs or maybe people are pulling fire alarms. I’m not sure but it’s way too frequent to name it as one single thing setting it off,” Guzman said. 

Former Vedder Hall residential advisor Kaiya Burton ’23 worries that the frequent false alarms foster a sense of leisure amongst residents towards evacuations. “I can say with confidence that the frequency of the Vedder fire alarms have created a space where students will both ignore the alarm as well as subconsciously tune out the noise during night hours,” Burton said. 

Despite never considering herself a heavy sleeper, Burton said that on multiple occasions she learned from other students that an alarm was set off in the middle of the night and that she slept through it. 

“My body was so used to the noise [that] I would not wake up to the alarm sounding,” Burton continued. 

Leibel wanted to stress the importance of responding to each alarm, no matter the time. “Even though fire alarms have been set off and there hasn’t been an actual fire yet, I strongly urge and remind residents to evacuate the building every single time the alarm rings because you never know when that alarm will be signaling an actual fire. If you need to know your Fire Evacuation Route or Fire Alarm Location, please follow up with your RA,” Leibel added. 


EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier copy of this article labeled the final quote incorrectly; the original dialogue tag was “she added,” erroneously implying that someone other than Leibel had issued the final quote.

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