The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Monday June 5th

Old sensors in Davis Library caused Monday's fire alarm

When fire alarms went off in Davis Library Monday, nothing was on fire. Older fire alarm panels in Davis caused the alarm — and they cause others. 

“Unfortunately, we do get a pretty large number of false alarms on campus," University Fire Marshal David Guynn said. "A lot of the time, the smoke detectors, because of the way they detect fire, can often malfunction.” 

Guynn said unlike newer fire alarm panels, the alarm panels in Davis can’t detect how clean the smoke detector is. 

“Sometimes a smoke detector will get dirty and will cause a false alarm,” Guynn said. 

He said engineers and Facilities Services are currently planning on upgrading the fire alarms in the library to be able to prevent this, and the project will begin in the next year or so.

“Newer fire alarm panels can actually check and see how clean the sensor is just by talking to it electronically," Guynn said.

Guynn said fire alarm systems in any University building are inspected once or twice a year.

He said students and faculty don’t need to be concerned about the building not being able to detect fires.

“Just because something like this happens with the smoke detector doesn’t mean the building is unsafe," Guynn said. "It really just means the detector is more likely to go off so for instance if it’s got dust or something in it and it gets smoke in it. It’ll actually in some cases it can go off sooner than it would otherwise.”

Monday's incident raised awareness of the importance of safety procedures and what to do in situations like this.

Judy Panitch, director of library communications, said Davis Library’s general evacuation procedure is to make an announcement and direct people to the exits throughout the building.

“There are multiple exits around the building," Panitch said. "Most people go to the one that they habitually use, which is the main exit.”

Sophomore Alex Lutton said the exit process caused some inconvenience.

"I think it was kind of inefficient just because of the bottlenecking getting out, but I don't know what else to do," she said Monday.

Junior Rachel Nixon said she was in the library when the fire alarms went off. 

“I just found the closest stairs," she said.

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