Harsh but lifesaving – an unexpected alarm at a student residence in London

A fire alarm activation caused an evacuation of around 40 residents at Dante Road on Tuesday morning.

A group of students staying outside the house after the evacuation. (Viktorie Brezinova, 2020)

As a first fire alarm case of Dante Road in this academic year, students living at Block 14 had to evacuate themselves a few minutes before 3 AM on 29th September. Fortunately, no emergency services were needed and one of the staff members checked whole building to make sure everyone is out and safe.

According to one of the residents, a smoke from cigarette or vape pen activated the alarm, but there is no certain evidence of it yet. Alexander Huda, manager of Dante Road, also refused to comment about the case.

“Further information about the real cause of alarm activation cannot be provided due its sensitive nature and data protection.” he confirmed.

Mr. Huda also confirmed that staff members are experienced and know how to cope with situations similar to this one. In addition, residents are expected to evacuate themselves on their own as the fire evacuation is one of their responsibilities while living in the halls.

“All staff are trained in how to respond to such a situation. If a real fire was found to be the cause of activation then a sweep of rooms to check everyone had evacuated would be conducted either by staff or the emergency services.” he said.

Fortunately, no one got injured and residents could get back to their rooms 20 minutes later. Most of them had already been asleep when the alarm was activated. However, a few of “night owls” had still been awake.

“I was in the middle of a PC game when the alarm went off, so I wasn’t shocked that much. I just put my sweater on, took my phone and wallet and quickly went outside.” said one of the students.

According to Mr. Huda, there are approximately 40 alarm activations per an academic year, whereas at least one of them is surprise fire drill to ensure residents are evacuating properly.

In most cases it’s caused by aerosol or smoking related activations, virtually none of them are related to an actual fire.