Students Question Evacuation Procedures in Light of False Gas Leak

Rachael Franchini ’19, Co-Editor-in-Chief

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Students living in Davidson-Wilson dorm (DW) were concerned to see firefighters in their building Monday night, having not been notified to evacuate, despite a report of a gas smell. No gas leak was found and students were not in danger.

“I [saw] a bunch of fire trucks and sirens outside,” said Avani Kurup ’22, a resident of DW. “I didn’t really think much of it at the time because there was no email or text message explaining anything hazardous going on.”

Fire trucks arrived at the site around 6:20 p.m. and left by 7 p.m.

According to Dee Danser, assistant vice president, compliance & chief of public safety, the Department of Public Safety (DPS) received a call from a student reporting a gas smell in the dorm.

“We immediately contacted the fire department per our protocol,” she stated in an email.

“…I heard firefighters walking outside the door. Me and my friends all froze because we were alarmed by the loud conversation he was having with other firefighters,” said Kurup, who was in her dorm before 6 p.m. “We figured at that point something actually happened but we didn’t think we needed to evacuate because, once again, there was no email nor text sent. So we just stayed in the room, texting anybody we could to basically figure out what was happening.”

Kristen Kostecky, associate vice president of Campus Operations, confirmed by email that “There wasn’t a gas leak at DW last night nor has there been any this year. Students are simply reporting a gas smell and protocol is to call in the fire department. No one is in danger.”

According to Danser, after the report of the gas smell, “Officer [of Public Safety Jill] McGeehan responded to the building and began to go door to door evacuating students, but the fire department arrived quickly and told her to stop the evacuations as their equipment was not detecting any gas.” 

Jordyn Dean ’22, resident of DW, saw a DPS car drive up to the dorm with their lights on while she was entering the dorm. “I just figured it was an unrelated incident, and no one really stopped me, so I just kind of walked inside DW… I actually got messages from other people who had a picture of a firefighter walking down the guys’ side [of the dorm], but they didn’t know what was going on either. We all were generally confused as to whether or not we were supposed to evacuate because there was no indication to us that we were.”