1. #1
    Truck 2
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Angry False Alarms at College Dorms!

    Franklin & Marshall College is located within the city Of Lancaster, Pa.. We run the campus some where around 60 times a year for automatic fire alarms. This number has been reduced in resent years from over 300 runs a year when the city started charging for automatic alarms. When they go over three alarms a year. Thursday morning 1/20/00 at 0230 hours in we got dispatched for a automatic alarm in South Ben Franklin Dorm. En rout County dispatch informed us this alarm was coming from a pull station on the third floor. On arrival we were met by college security,which is normal. The building had been evacuated, security was going to take us in and show us the pull station before they reset the system. The firefighter with me saw a student looking out a third floor window.I pointed this out to security, when we got to the third floor we found a student in the public hallway, security asked him what he was doing in the building, his reply was he forgot his drivers license. The student monitor that was with us took his name down. We checked three other dorm rooms trying to find the room where we saw the person looking out the window. The first room we entered had two male students still sleeping in it, the second room was empty, and the third room had a male occupant still in it, this was the guy that was looking out the window. This incident was a day after the Seton Hall incident in South Orange N.J. We run this campus a lot for burnt popcorn and things like that but not a lot of false pull station activations. The students never leave the building like they should! My question to everyone out there with dorms in their running areas, is this a common problem on all college campu's? and what do you do to get everyone to evacuate like the code requires! The dept. ran this same run the next night!



  2. #2
    Lieutenant Gonzo
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Hi Truck 2...
    The problem you describe doesn't happen at college dorms....it happens just about everywhere. People become complacent after a while, and if and when the fire alarm goes off they assume it's a false alarm. It just makes our job a little more difficult.

    When a college student pulls a malicious false alarm in a college dorm, I say throw the book at him...he or she should have the common sense to understand the consequences of their actions. Maybe they should be expelled, too. Mommy and Daddy won't be happy forfeiting the tuition money, and if they pay their own way it will be a valuable and expensive lesson!

    Take care and be safe...Lt. Gonzo

    [This message has been edited by Lieutenant Gonzo (edited January 21, 2000).]

  3. #3
    Firehouse.com Guest


    We have a private college in town and most buildings are tied into an alarm panel at the campus security office. When an alarm comes in the security officers (college kids with a radio/cell phone) will respond to the alarm. This is good in only one respect, we don't get any false alarm runs.
    When they call it is for real.
    We have had some trash chute fires that smoke up the whole hall. These were minor but there have been some good fires in the rooms. Most are fire resistive but some were built in the pre 1950's and are potential disasters.
    The kids don't like standing in the snow in their underwear when its 10 below but we go room to room as quick as we can. I hope we keep getting lucky and avoid a tragedy.

  4. #4
    Firehouse.com Guest


    College Dorms are not the only problem. Military Dorms are just as bad. They like to pull a box just for fun, and some of the people never exit the building. I guess we just have to try harder to educate these people.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Feb 1999
    Roswell, GA, USA


    In a related matter, the church I work at has enacted a very proactive approach. We have a day care, about 25 people on staff, and several people doing what is known as "perpetual adoration" in a chapel. When we have a fire drill, ALL must evacuate. Various staff check predetermined areas on their way out. We have even gone as far as to have a policy for emergencies during Masses. We've had to use it twice so far for medical emergencies, but not for fire so far. Next week, we will publish the fire alarm policy in our bulletin so that the members will have a heads-up. We WILL, if necessary, stop the Mass and evacuate if we have any doubts or concerns about the safety of the 1000+ people in attendance.

    I'm one of the music directors (full-time job), and the pastor is 100% behind any and all safety procedures. I'm also the fire warden for the facility.

    Rick Reed
    Do it right, do it safely, do it once.

  6. #6
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I have a question for ED:
    Is it the policy of the private college to respond in the manner they do i.e. w/security to check it first without calling the fire department? In the time it takes for them to confirm the situation, fire or false alarm, the incident can progress and cost you valuable minutes in response time.


  7. #7
    Terry McDonald
    Firehouse.com Guest


    The dept. i used to work for had the same problem. We ran the campus for the Univ. of MS (Ole Miss) It was not uncommon to run three or four alarms to the same dorm in a day. Students were always in the building. Wetried once to get the point accross to the students by making them stay out of the building while we evacuated the ones that stayed in. It was very cold outside. The point was if they all would just get out, we could cear the call quicker and they could go back inside much sooner. That backfired when a "generous" alumnus complained about his precious child being out in the cold. We had a working fire on the fifth floor of a 12 story dorm. Five students had to be rescued via platform because they ignored the alarm and were stuck in there rooms. This of course delayed fire attack ina city with one truck company and we lost 90 percent of the floor. One girl was found in the bed asleep on the second floor about an hour into the fire and she had no ideawhat was going on. There was certainly a lack of respect for the alarms.

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