We all know the story of the boy who cried wolf, right? A boy is bored while watching the town's sheep, so he repeatedly screams out "Wolf!" so the villagers come and entertain him. One day, a wolf really does come, and he calls out to the villagers, but nobody responds. The sheep scatter, and he is to blame for the loss of the flock.
Since I have arrived at school, my dorm building's fire/emergency alarm system has gone off when there was no emergency or threat present. The first time this happened, it was before 8 am on the first week of classes, and people dragged themselves out of bed or stopped getting ready for class to come outside, believing there was a real fire. We were assured that this was a false alarm and were allowed back inside. In the past week, there were two more unfounded alarms. By the second one, people were so irritated that some didn't even come outside, knowing there was a high chance that the alarm did not represent a real emergency.
As I was standing outside on Sunday night, irritated by this third interruption, and eager to get back to the work I left on my desk, I realized the true danger of this seemingly harmless situation. So many people hesitated before coming outside, expecting that they wouldn't be in danger if they remained in the building. If there, God forbid, was a real emergency or a fire in one of the rooms, I would expect that at least a few people wouldn't evacuate when the alarm sounded because of the ridiculous number of false alarms we've had in such a short time period.
My dorm building is a new one, so it is understandable that there will be some issues with the systems in place, but these should be fully tested and addressed before students move in. Too many unnecessary alarms will lead to irritated students who may not heed or believe the warning the alarm is trying to issue.
Growing up with an uncle in the FDNY, I was taught to always evacuate in the event the fire alarm goes off, but others may disregard the warnings after multiple false alarms. University Public Safety: please fix your alarm systems so they only go off in the case of a REAL emergency. Students: listen to the alarms and follow emergency protocol, even if you think there's no danger; you never know when the situation will be real.