The Oviatt Library was evacuated Tuesday afternoon due to a mechanical failure of the fire alarms in the building.
A little past noon hundreds of students were asked by library employees to gather their belongings and leave the building. Administrators, dressed in orange vests, made sure that students stood away from the building after they exited. Students gathered outside the building were not aware why they had to leave the premises.They remained outside the building for a relatively short time until administrators determined it was safe for students to enter the building once again.
Marianne Afifi, acting dean of the library, was one of the administrators who directed students outside the building until it was deemed safe for re-entry. She said it was a mechanical failure of the alarms in the library that set them off and students’ safety was not at risk when they were asked to leave the building.
Physical Plant Management (PPM) handles the electrical work for the campus. PPM’s administrator was not available to speak about the occurrence.
Students who were on the upper levels of the building were unable to exit quickly. They were packed on the escalator with little mobility when it suddenly stopped working. The escalators then sped up to an unusual speed. Students were not sure if the fast moving escalators were to move students out the building faster, or a mechanical glitch.
“Everyone was looking around trying to figure out what to do and not sure what happened,” said Mikhail Moody, 21, mechanical engineer major. Moody said he was stuck on the escalator while trying to exit the building.
Students interviewed said they did not feel their safety was at risk when the fire alarm went off. However, they said they were more concerned about the apparent difficulty in exiting the library quickly and efficiently should a real emergency take place.
Keila Levis, 19, public health education major, said she was working on a paper in the computer lab when the alarms went off in the building.
“I didn’t smell a fire or anything. Maybe someone pulled it (alarm),” Levis said. She added that she did not know what happened, but did not think anyone was in danger.
Some students, like Araksya Danielyan, 21, sociology major, were trying to enter the building at the time or noticed the spectacle were surprised to see that the building was closed for entry. They observed students gathering on the Oviatt lawn, waiting to be allowed back in. They said they could see the alarm’s flashing lights inside the library.
“I was trying to get in (the building) and they told us to get out,” Danielyan said. She said she did not know if someone pulled the alarm or if it was an emergency.
However, she like many other students did not have to wait long before being allowed back into the building.