Interrupting sleep, study and freetime, the Noyes House fire alarm drove residents out of their rooms yet again at 4:30 a.m on Saturday, Sept. 10, going off twice more at around 4:50 a.m. and 8 a.m. that same morning. For the past few weeks, the alarm has been activated around three times a day and often in the late hours of the night for reasons unknown to the residents. Mady Ockner ’25 said, “It’s gone off around 15 times since the start of the year. It’s really impacted everyone’s sense of security in their own home by creating a boy-who-cried-wolf situation.”
Noyes residents have received several emails concerning the faulty alarms, all of which failed to adequately address the cause of the issue but included instructions to evacuate every time the alarm sounds. “Yeah, it’s gone off probably 15 to 20 times. I only evacuated the first time,” said Claire Carter ’26.
Manager of Mechanical Services and Central Heating in Facilities Operations Michael Logue reported the following via email correspondence with The Miscellany News: “On Tuesday, [Sept.] 13th, a part failed in the alarm system in Noyes House.”
Noyes House Advisor Bianca Keesler emailed the house residents Tuesday, Sept. 13 informing them that the system was undergoing repairs. “The smoke and Carbon Monoxide detectors remain functioning properly however the notification systems (siren and strobes) will not work properly until sometime tomorrow when a part for repair arrives,” she said in the email.
Facilities Operations quickly engaged Firewatch, a trained group of employees who look out for emergencies such as a fire when systems are down, according to Logue. He added, “The new part was installed on Wednesday, [Sept.] 14th, returning the system to full operation. The part failure only affected Noyes House. All other fire systems on campus remained fully operational.”
Contrary to this information, the Noyes alarms have continued to go off almost daily as of Sept. 19, sometimes sounding for up to 20 minutes. Logue explained that everytime an alarm is triggered, the fire department, in addition to Vassar personnel, must immediately respond to the scene. He emphasized the importance of safety and further insisted that everyone should follow the necessary procedures: “The safety of all students is paramount and everyone should follow procedures as normal when the alarm sounds.” Logue also stated, “This incident is not reflective of a long-term issue. All of our fire systems are monitored daily by our vendor and inspected yearly in accordance with New York State Fire Code.” However, Ockner insisted, “This has been going on for years.”
Many Noyes residents are both annoyed and angry over the situation. “I refuse to go out in the middle of Nircle at 4:30 in the morning and stand there with my peers at our most vulnerable to just watch the fire alarm go off. Because I know there’s not a fire!” said Carter. Another first-year, Jude Landesman, expressed disappointment after moving from Main to Noyes earlier this year: “Noyes has a bad rep, but when I got there I was like, ‘Oh no, this is pretty nice.’” He added,“The fire alarms [have] turned me off to Noyes because I’m afraid I won’t be able to get a good night’s sleep.”
A few students feel that, considering the amount of money paid in tuition, these residential facility issues are incredibly irritating. As Carter said, “I paid so much money to be here. Why am I getting woken up by a fire alarm at 4:30 in the morning? If I start to smell smoke, I will exit the building, but for now I will rest peacefully—well, actually, not peacefully. I will remain in my bed.”