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Fire alarm interrupts reception

Perry, Katie | Tuesday, March 1, 2005

University donors were surprised to learn they would be asked to evacuate the Marie P. DeBartolo Center for the Performing Arts during a reception Friday evening due to a false fire alarm.The Edward Frederick Sorin Society, which honors those who annually give $1,000 or more to Notre Dame, was in the middle of a function in the Leighton Concert Hall of the DPAC when the fire alarm went off and guests were forced to leave the premises until safety could be assured.Manager of Guest Services Jacqueline Schmidt said the alarm went off at 7:30 p.m.”Our staff followed all of our standard procedures appropriately and efficiently and evacuated the building,” Schmidt said. “Once we had accounted for all of our guests and confirmed that there was no threat to their safety, we brought everyone back in and resumed all of our scheduled activities.”According to Megan O’Hara, a member of the event staff, a special effect used in the play “The Laramie Project” caused the fire alarm to falsely sound. The two events took place at simultaneous times in the building.”There is a scene that uses fog, and apparently that is what set off one of the alarms below the stage in the Decio Theater,” O’Hara said.Despite the inconvenience, Schmidt said the guests made no complaints and in fact gave compliments regarding how well the situation was handled.”It should’ve been mass chaos, but actually we got people reseated for the Laramie Project fairly quickly, and the actors didn’t miss a beat,” O’Hara said. “The Sorin Society performance was almost over anyway so the people just finished with the reception in the PAC lobby.”