Fire leads to alarm inquiry

Students evacuated Durfee Hall early Friday morning after a minor fire in suite D12 triggered the building’s fire alarm, though many students said they did not hear the alarm and had to be awoken by their peers.

Morse College Master Frank Keil said the fire — which began around 3:30 a.m. Friday — was quickly extinguished, but approximately one quarter of Morse freshmen slept through the alarm, said freshman counselor Jon McClain ’06, who lives in D12. Because so many students did not hear the alarm, Keil said he reported the problem to Yale Fire Marshal Michael Johns, who performed checks on the alarm system Friday afternoon. McClain, Keil and Morse College Dean Alexandra Dufresne declined to comment on the cause of the fire.

“We reported this to the fire marshal, and they’re looking into the fire system and seeing what they can do to fix the problem,” Keil said.

Alex Schwed ’06, a freshman counselor who also lives in D12, said freshman counselors are unable to comment on the cause of the fire because they are tied to the Yale College Dean’s Office.

McClain said the dean, fire marshal and freshmen counselors are working together to improve the fire system, which he said is poorly structured for the building.

“The problem is that the alarms are predominantly located outside of bedrooms and the flashing lights are only located outside of suites,” he said.

Eric Uscinski, director of Facilities Operations, said he has not been informed of any problems concerning the Durfee Hall fire system and does not think there is a campus-wide problem with fire alarm volume.

“I haven’t heard anything from our fire marshal to tell me otherwise,” Uscinski said. “Everything is up to code.”

At the time of the fire, Heather Mohorn ’09 said there was “a lot of smoke” rising up to the fifth floor of Entryway E, and that she saw charred peanuts on the first floor landing as she was evacuating the building. Mohorn said one of her suitemates had to wake her up along with two other members of her suite who did not hear the alarm go off.

Jay Frisby ’09 said he heard the fire alarm when it went off, but thought it came from somewhere else.

“I did hear it at first, but it took me a few minutes to work out that the alarm was here,” he said. “I thought it was a car alarm.”

A similar fire on Old Campus occurred in Bingham Hall last October, but no problems with the fire alarm were reported.

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