To support Brannigan’s argument, Donath (2000) also found that students ignore
fire alarms. During an education program delivered to the Association of College
Administration Professionals, a speaker argued that students refuse to leave a building
once an alarm is sounded due to the large number of false alarms. In addition, Donath
found that once an alarm is sounded, many colleges require a security officer to check for
a real fire before the fire department is called. Donath argues such practices place local
fire departments in a difficult situation after the clock has been running for up to 30
Brannigan further described lessons learned from two life-loss dormitory fires.
The first involved Providence College in Providence, Rhode Island on December 13,
1977. This was a high-rise dormitory of non-combustible construction. The building
contained dead-end corridors, doors with louvers to allow air to return to the corridor, and
Christmas decorations lining the corridor. A fire occurred in a fourth floor room
occupied by three women. They opened a window, and the fire spread to the corridor.
The result was the loss of nine women due to the fire. In addition, two jumped to their
deaths before the fire department arrived. When firefighters reached the fourth floor, the
fire was almost out. The fire had consumed the paper decorations.
Demers (1978) provided an overview of the NFPA investigation that followed the
Providence College tragedy. The NFPA report confirmed the most significant factor
contributing to the deaths of eight of the ten students was the presence of highly
combustible decorations in the corridor. The dead-end corridor was a contributing factor
in the deaths of four students. Demers concluded that the presence of highly combustible