Fire alarm frenzy

Fire alarm frenzy

Delaney Hassell, Staff Reporter

False alarm, or is it?

The police blotter has been showing an increase in “fire alarm false activation” and “trouble alarm” between Aug. 18 to Sept. 1.  Eleven reports have appeared total.  These reports have raised some suspicion about what exactly is going on with the fire alarms on the Robert Morris campus.

These false activations were actually true activations by shower steam, burnt food, etc. Chief Randy Mink of the Robert Morris University Public Safety Department assured that the smoke detectors work properly.

“I think where some of the confusion is in our title headings for those reports it says false activation. You could look at that and have different definitions or meanings of it. It’s not that it’s a false activation,” said Mink.

On Aug. 26, the Nicholson fire alarm went off in the early afternoon.  While many kids evacuated the building, some students remained in the building for unknown reasons. The alarm was set off because the smoke detectors are very sensitive and due to concrete being cut outside of Nicholson that day, dust from the construction set the alarm off.

Because of their sensitivity, most of the fire alarms have been set off in the newer residence halls: Lexington, Concord and Salem.

Mink posed the question, “What can you do in those three dorms that you can’t do in the rest?”

These dorms all have stoves and ovens — which allows for cooking, unlike the dorm-style buildings. With students cooking in the apartments, there is a greater risk of burnt food causing the fire alarm being set off.

Facilities Management will soon be releasing flyers to all of the students advising ways to help keep the smoke detector from activating. Some things to try are closing the bathroom door to prevent shower steam from escaping into the hallway, keeping the oven and stove clean so food does not burn off, and cracking windows to help exhaust smoke in the event of burnt food.

Fire alarms have been tested in a majority of the dorms, with only a few left to check. Fire drills occur once a semester in dorms and the rest of the buildings’ fire alarms are tested once a year, if not once a semester.

In the traditional dorm-style halls there are two fire extinguishers located on each end of the floor. Other extinguishers are placed in set locations depending on the configuration of the building.

Evacuation and Safety plans are very important to the Public Safety Department. Within the next year, the sub safety committees hope to create “Evacuation Staging Areas.” These will be designated areas outside each building for students and staff to congregate to when an alarm goes off. This allows the fire and police departments to have more control of the situation and also keeps everyone safe.

More information can be found at campus police website, Also included on the site is anonymous reporting under the ‘Online Services’ tab for possible illegal incidents on or around campus. In case of an emergency please call the Public Safety Department at 412-397-2424.