Housing responds to frequent fire alarms


Rhonda Wheeler

Ambulances and Sheriff cars outside Leslie apartment Oct. 26 after a grease fire.

Rhonda Wheeler, News Editor

Alexia Willard, a sophomore English major, commented on a Facebook post that she doesn’t evacuate her apartment until the fire alarm goes off for more than 30 seconds because she believes it’ll be a false alarm.

“Of course, if I smell something burning, I just get out,” Willard wrote. “But it’s usually nothing.”

Lisa Crago, a sophomore accounting major, reported she had to call Public Safety about a smoke alarm going off. She said that Public Safety helped her with the situation and told her to evacuate the building.

“I think (fire safety) is well taken care of here,” she said.

There have been 125 fire alarm or fire reports since the beginning of the school year, according to the Public Safety crime log.

In 2018, there were three student housing fires. One was caused by cookies catching fire, another by a grease fire on a stove and then the final one being a cigarette butt catching fire in an ashtray. None of these caused property damages.

In 2017, there were two fires that each resulted in $2,700 in damage property and one person being injured.

Housing and Residence Life provides students with guides on emergency procedures and what they should do in the event of a fire.

They recommend that before a fire starts, students should know: where the fire extinguishers are and how to use them, the locations of exits and the evacuation rules.

To use a fire extinguisher, pull the safety pin from the handle, then aim to the base of the fire and squeeze the trigger handle.

Housing also urges students to contact Public Safety for even a minor fire. The university contacts the Perry Township Fire Department.

Kitchen fire safety is its own section in emergency procedures. 

“We find that this is something that happens more often than some other types of things,” said Amy Price, director of housing and residence life. “You know, sometimes it’s pizza. It’s cookies in the oven. If it’s something on the stove, it’s something boiling over.”

Price recalled a “kind of bad” fire in October, a grease fire that broke out in the Leslie apartment building and injured two people. There was also minor damage to the stovetop.

“Those things are scary because you can get burned really easily,” Price said.

Price also mentioned that in October housing cleaned the venting units and replaced filters to help with the mold situation in the apartments.

Price said students aren’t charged for using a fire extinguisher to try to put out a fire.

“I want students to know we will replace it that night,” Price said. “Call emergency maintenance and we’ll have a fire extinguisher ready to use.”

During winter break, all apartments went through mold inspections and units were again cleaned and filters replaced. Housing also went through and wired bathroom lights to automatically turn the fan on.

Housing will go back through one more time in March and clean units again.