Last Thursday I woke from a deep sleep at about 6:30 a.m. thinking it was still very early and my first class wasn’t until 12:45 p.m. I figured it would be a good idea to try to go back to sleep for a couple more hours. No less than a minute later, an ear-piercing screech cut me to the core and made me jump about six inches off my mattress. It took me about 30 seconds to realize it was just a fire drill.
I have lived in the Mackin Complex for most of my time here at Oswego State, and ever since that first fire drill, I’ve understood there is a pretty good chance I am going to be partially deaf by the time graduation rolls around. It is just one of the two things I dislike about the residence hall. The other reason is that people who trip the fire alarm seem to time it just right with terrible weather conditions or even better, at three in the morning. Both of these types of prank fire drills actually happened during the first semester I was here.
What really makes me angry isn’t so much the fire alarm, as the fact that the newer fire alarms aren’t as deafening. The summer after my first year in Oswego, I decided to take the calculus-based physics sequence in my hometown’s university as an off-campus study. During a lecture, I heard a man’s voice calmly saying, “Please evacuate the building.” After opening the doors, I could hear the faintest siren. I was puzzled but realized the sound I heard was their fire alarm. When we were outside, I was talking to my lab partner about the fire alarms I have to deal with in Oswego State, and he said, “I feel very sorry for you.”
It turns out that this campus isn’t the only one to use non-deafening fire alarms. I am aware of two other buildings that use the same exact fire alarm here on Oswego State’s Campus. I’m willing to bet there are many more buildings with this type of fire alarm, but these are just the two I know about. The first one happens to be the newest building on the campus, Shineman Center. Last summer, I was in the building working on my thesis for an independent study, and one day I heard that same exact non-deafening fire alarm.
The second occurrence was last year, when I was eating dinner at Lakeside Dining Hall. All of a sudden I heard a siren with that same guy saying, “Please evacuate the building.” At that moment I became even more frustrated because I was thinking, “Is Mackin the only building in this entire state that doesn’t have a fire alarm that causes ringing in your ears?”
I’m not sure what can be done about this, mostly because the Mackin Complex is one of the oldest buildings on campus. I really do not like having to deal with these fire alarms (about 10 per semester) knowing everywhere else has much quieter fire alarms. In addition, it’s frustrating to me that only two or three are actually scheduled per semester.
To those few who think tripping fire alarms is comical, I’d like to say a very sincere “knock it off.” There are a lot of people inside these buildings who feel that time out in the freezing cold at 3 a.m. could be better spent sleeping. Lord knows we need it.