Police explain false alarms

Photo by: Demario Cullars

Sarah Ryniker

The Georgia Southern University Police, as well as the Statesboro Fire Department and campus maintenance, responded to a fire alarm in Eagle Village on Sunday night.

Cooking smoke activated the alarm.

“We send officers when an alarm goes off, and we assist with calls. Sometimes they aren’t emergencies, so we just send maintenance,” Chief Michael Russell of GSU police, said.

On occasions, the smoke alarm is set off by accident and there are no flames. The fire department is alerted as soon as the alarms sound; the fire truck is already on its way, Russell said.

“Folks burn popcorn, and it sets the monitor off. If it’s a fire alarm, we call the department. So by the time we get there, the fire station already has been notified,” Russell said.

Last year, only four fires in campus dorms were reported, all unintentional. Two fires took place in Centennial Place, one in Sanford and one in the Watson Commons. The total damage costs came to        $23,100, according to the 2012 Annual Fire Safety Report.

According to the GSU “Up in Flames” website, a total of 171 fire alarms went off on campus last year. Unattended cooking fires caused 57, nine were fire alarms that were pulled, and 61 originated from unknown sources.

GSU attempts to prevent fires and promote student safety with fire drills, Bobby Oellerich, junior business logistics and former Eagle Village community leader, said.

“The point of a fire drill is to make sure students know how to exit the building if there ever was a fire,” Oellerich said.

The point of fire drills is to prevent the unexpected from happening, Raven Littlejohn, junior psychology major and Eagle Village community leader, said.

GSU simulates a dorm room fire every fall, entitled “Up in Flames.” The fire safety and awareness fair enables students to be more aware of fire safety.

It only takes five minutes for your room to go up in flames, according to the University Wellness website.

“Fire safety is something we take quite seriously in Housing,” Ben Kappel, Eagle Village One resident director, said.

“Fire drills are a lot of work, but it’s a necessary type of work,” Reanna Coggins, sophomore construction management major and Eagle Village community leader, said.

Students can do simple things to prevent fires, Russell said.

“Have fire extinguishers and pay attention when alarms go off. Some students stay back (during drills), and we find them when we go in. It just isn’t safe,” Russell said.

“In my experience, students tend to take forever to evacuate a building during a fire drill. It’s important to show how long the evacuation process really takes,” Oellerich said.

There are many tips to keep people safe from fire, Russell said.

Russell said, “No candles, no extension cords. Be careful when cooking. The same safety rules we were taught as kids still apply.”