Students under fire: Talybont Court residents criticised for slow evacuation despite genuine risk

First-year students have come under criticism from the University after residents at Talybont Court failed to evacuate the building at the time of a real fire.

Residents at University accommodation have been ignoring the fire warnings after constant alarms since the start of the academic year, but now University Security have warned that those who snub the alarm or tamper the safety material could be fined or expelled in future.

University officials confirmed that a pan fire broke out in House Two of Talybont Court on Friday October 9th.

Although the event was quickly dealt with by students, security staff and the fire service, concerns were raised by the University over the slow evacuation times of students.

Students were sceptic and slow to evacuate due to persistent nuisance alarms. Firefighters arrived quickly and no injuries were reported, but many students were still inside the building while the professionals extinguished the flames.

A Cardiff University spokesperson elaborated: “The fire alarm sounded but some in the block were slow to evacuate.”

As a result of the incident, residents received letters reminding them of the “importance of reacting to the alarm immediately.”

The letter described the evacuation on Friday as “very poor”. Students were also reminded that “each time an alarm is activated residents are required to evacuate the building immediately.”

University halls of residence will now be subject to a fire drill test. Those who are slow to evacutate could face action under the University’s disciplinary policy.

Most students thought it was yet another false alarm as they are apparently common in the building. According a resident, more than once a week and often during the early morning hours residents are forced out of bed by a beeping siren, only to discover there is no fire at all. Innocent mistakes such as burned toast, unconscious behaviour by drunken youths, consecutive fire drills or tasteless pranks are apparently the most frequent culprits.

Security Officers were baffled by student’s sluggish reaction during Friday’s fire, feeling the need to scold the slow tenants: “As soon as you hear the alarm sound, you have to evacuate in three minutes,” cautioned an officer who preferred not to be named when questioned later.

“If it is a real fire, we are not going to risk our lives to go inside and save you. You have to be adults and act responsibly”.

Members of Security warned that students who ignore the alarm next time will be fined, just like any who student who is discovered to misuse the fire extinguisher.

Although Friday’s incident was the most dangerous so far, the fire alarm at House 2 continues to go off. The latest fire alarm was set-off on early Sunday Morning due to a “prank”. Once more, many students were slow exiting the building.

As a result of the ongoing issue, some have stated that they want to transfer from Taylbont court, although no requests have been sent to the offices yet. “If this happens again, I am asking to move to another house”, claims Nishad, an international student from India.

Anastacia, who is completing an archaeology MA program, says the constant alarms leave her exhausted: “The alarms keep disrupting my sleep. It is very annoying. This never happens in the other houses.”

“Why is it always before dawn?” and “I am sleeping through it next time” are reportedly other common sentences heard amongst the freezing tenants during morning fire alarms.

When asked about what could be done to urge students to evacuate quicker, the response from Security Residence was: “We might implement stricter fire drills to ensure that every student knows how to react in the event of a genuine fire.”

Such events have shown that awareness should be raised: ignoring the fire alarm drill can have serious consequences. Students are reminded that fire alarms are still a signal warning that the building must be evacuated immediately.

Karla Pequenino