University “He couldn’t hear us”: Safety risk of AirPods raised in recent campus incident
University “He couldn’t hear us”: Safety risk of AirPods raised in recent campus incident
“He couldn’t hear us”: Safety risk of AirPods raised in recent campus incident

Panic ensued as students evacuated Gokongwei Hall after a fire broke out inside the building last March 13. However, as the Manila Central Fire Station crew extinguished the flames, they found a student still inside one of the classrooms.

In an interview with The LaSallian, firefighters at the scene claimed that the student, who was later identified as one Bliss Cruz (II, CS), was casually playing the popular multiplayer online game Mobile Legends while listening to Buwan by juan karlos on his AirPods.

When approached by the crew, the student was allegedly angered at the interruption of his gameplay. When asked how he had not heard the fire alarm, Cruz responded, “I’m sorry, pare, but I don’t hear broke.”

Investigation done by both the responding fire department and University personnel showed that the fire was caused by overheating in the servers, after a large number of students attempted to complete their pre-enlistment at the last minute.


Mismanaged servers

“I think they (students) were scared of losing their priority slots,” Information Technology Services (ITS) Director Allan Borra offered as a reason for the sudden surge of data that caused the servers to overload.

“Honestly, I didn’t take the pre-enlistment thing seriously, but only after I read the notice an hour before the deadline did I realize it was actually important,” Samantha*, one of the students who pre-enlisted at the last minute, confessed, upon realizing the role she played in the accident.

On the other hand, Noel Castillo, coordinator for the Technology Infrastructure and Assets Section (TIA) of ITS, disclosed that a staff member handling the animo.sys servers that day was also wearing AirPods. As a result, he did not hear the fire alarm. “One of the crew was shouting at him to get a fire extinguisher since he was the closest to it, but he couldn’t hear us. He had AirPods on,” Castillo narrated.

Because of the role AirPods played in the fire, the TIA coordinator proposed that the devices be banned on campus.


UNIV_Goks Incident_Nikki Lacuna


Capacity to listen

Cruz acknowledged that she did not even realize there was a fire in her room. “I just thought the AC wasn’t working that’s why it was a bit hot and noisy,” she said.

Her classmates admitted that Cruz would often stay at a specific spot in the classroom where the teacher would not be able to see her use her phone. She would spend the hour and a half playing Mobile Legends while listening to the This is Juan Karlos playlist on Spotify, with the artist’s hit song Buwan on repeat.

“I guess that game of hers must have been too intense for her not to notice [the fire]. But anyway, we are just glad no one got hurt,” Borra admitted. When told of Cruz’s situation, her professor, who refused to be named, simply said, “That’s why students should listen in my class.”

Meanwhile, Maron Santillan (II, CS-IST), another student who had a class in Gokongwei Hall at the time of the fire, was thankful that he left his AirPods at home. He mentioned that he rarely forgets everyday items such as his wallet, phone, and AirPods. “Maybe it was God giving me a sign to stay away from Apple,” he concluded.

*Names were changed for anonymity.