University sends update about Harbin Hall evacuation

Tuesday, 6:45 p.m. update: According to an email sent to students by the University Housing Department, Facilities Management will test each residence hall’s fire alarm system this week.

Between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. tomorrow, Darnall and New South will be tested; LXR, Nevils, and the Southwest Quad will be tested later that day between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. On Thursday, Copley, Henle, Village A, and Alumni Square will be tested between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m.; Village C will be tested on Thursday between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.

Original post: In an email sent to the Georgetown community shortly after 11 p.m., Todd Olson, vice president of student affairs, and Rocco DelMonaco, vice president of university safety, provided yet another update about the Saturday’s Harbin Hall evacuation and DMT arrests.

Despite the failure of the “audible portion” of Harbin’s fire alarm system, the email reads, the redundancies built into the system allowed the University to evacuate the building quickly. In response to the malfunctioning system, the University will test “all on-campus residence locations” later this week.

“We purposefully build redundant means of effecting evacuations into our emergency plans in order to address life safety issues in multiple ways,” Olson and DelMonaco wrote. “Our actions on Saturday—including triggering the fire evacuation system and having multiple staff and law enforcement personnel make personal visits to individual residences, are examples of these redundancies.”

According to the email, the production of DMT is “an isolated event” that is “not something we have experienced before on our campus.”

Olson and DelMonaco’s full email

Dear Members of the Campus Community,We are writing to provide another update on the evacuation of Harbin Hall over the weekend, to remind you of our emergency preparedness efforts, and to thank the many members of our community who worked hard to address a complex situation.

As you know, we safely evacuated Harbin Hall on Saturday in order to protect the residents of this building when reports came into the Department of Public Safety (DPS) about a strange odor on the 9th floor.  Although the audible portion of the fire safety evacuation system did not sound, the redundancies built into our emergency evacuation system worked. We purposefully build redundant means of effecting evacuations into our emergency plans in order to address life safety issues in multiple ways. Our actions on Saturday –including triggering the fire evacuation system and having multiple staff and law enforcement personnel make personal visits to individual residences, are examples of these redundancies. Our fire safety alarm systems throughout campus are regularly tested and monitored.  The District of Columbia Fire Marshal’s office inspected the Harbin Hall fire evacuation system today and declared it safe and fully operable.  We are also supplementing our routine testing efforts with proactive, additional tests of all on-campus residential locations this week.

Georgetown takes safety and security issues very seriously.  We have comprehensive measures in place to address a range of issues that may arise on campus.  External authorities are the most appropriate responders in many campus emergencies, and we act on their guidance and direction in order to protect our campus community.  We appreciate the cooperation of the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department, District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)  as we worked together to address this situation.  As we would after any campus emergency, we will evaluate ways to further enhance and execute our plans based on lessons learned from this experience.  For more information on our emergency plans you can visit preparedness.georgetown.edu

The events of this weekend also provide an opportunity for us to reflect on our values as a community.  Together, we work hard to create and sustain a campus community that reflects our Catholic and Jesuit educational mission.  As such, we educate students about their collective responsibilities to shape our community.  Activities such as the use, production and distribution of illegal drugs are entirely inconsistent with our values, policies, and the law and we wish to be clear that individuals who are alleged to be involved in such activity will be promptly and certainly subject to appropriate action under the Code of Student Conduct. That said, we are heartened that the vast majority of students take great pride in our shared values, and contribute positively to our campus community.

We believe that the production of Dimethltryptamine (DMT), which outside law enforcement authorities confirm led to this weekend’s Harbin Hall evacuation, is an isolated event.  This is not something we have experienced before on our campus.

We are grateful to the residents of Harbin Hall for their cooperation with the many inconveniences caused over the weekend, and to the many friends and colleagues who worked to meet the various needs of those in our community during this time.

Sincerely,

Todd A. Olson, PhD                                         Rocco DelMonaco

Vice President of Student Affairs              Vice President of University Safety

10 Comments on “University sends update about Harbin Hall evacuation

  1. So the backup plan for broken fire alarms is knocking on well over two hundreds doors individually on eight floors?

    Is the backup plan in the event of a power outage a whole ton of candles?

  2. “Although the audible portion of the fire safety evacuation system did not sound, the redundancies built into our emergency evacuation system worked.”

    Okay so there are more than one ways of evacuating people in an emergency.

    “We purposefully build redundant means of effecting evacuations into our emergency plans in order to address life safety issues in multiple ways.”

    You could have just added the word ‘multiple’ before redundancies in the previous sentence, but okay. And even then it would’ve been…redundant.

    “Our actions on Saturday –including triggering the fire evacuation system and having multiple staff and law enforcement personnel make personal visits to individual residences, are examples of these redundancies.”

    So the redundancy for the fire alarm is the triggering of the fire evacuation system. That seems almost…too redundant.

  3. why is the administration saying DPS reported to “unusual smell” but the police report is saying they responded to reports of drugs being sold?

  4. I heard a story about a Harbiniite that slept through the entire event. He called his friend at 11:00 am and asked if they could grab lunch at Leo’s. In the case of a fire, I’m not sure how much help the “reduncies” would have been.
    How is a functioning fire alarm not included in tuition?

  5. On the one hand, people going door-to-door used to be most of the world’s fire alarm system up until the last several decades. On the other hand, “people knocking on doors” isn’t my favorite alert strategy. Harbin’s cluster system isn’t the easiest thing in the world to navigate quickly or efficiently, and if the staircases were blocked, due to fire or something else, I would sure be hoping they picked my floor to knock on first.

    You know, for a school that claims to put an emphasis on the liberal arts, they sure don’t do a good job modeling the brevity and conciseness our professors are constantly asking for.

  6. The next `’built-in” redundancy: Todd Olson. Megaphone. Harbin Patio.

  7. Pingback: Vox Populi » Washington Post reports that K2 tip, not “strange odor,” led to Harbin arrests

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