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Kays Hall reaches 26th fire alarm and counting

Fines to students possible, rewards offered for info on culprits

Published: Monday, October 29, 2007

Updated: Tuesday, September 28, 2010 15:09

Kays Hall .jpg

Caitlyn Neace

Jonesboro firefighters file out of Kays Hall after resetting the 25th fire alarm at the residence hall Friday night. Kays Hall has had 26 alarms this semester after Sunday morning's 2:30 alarm.

Kays Hall .jpg

Caitlyn Neace

Jonesboro firefighters file out of Kays Hall after resetting the 25th fire alarm at the residence hall Friday night. Kays Hall has had 26 alarms this semester after Sunday morning's 2:30 alarm.

It's 44 degrees Fahrenheit and students groggily make their way outside in their pajamas due to a fire alarm that was most likely the result of a prank.

At Kays Hall, this is a frequent occurrence. As of Friday, Kays had experienced a total of 24 fire alarms, as reported by the Jonesboro Fire Department. However, the fire alarms Saturday night and Sunday morning make the grand total 26.

"I'm so sick of it, people need to grow up," Ashley Fair, a freshman from Little Rock, said.

Fire alarms go off for three main reasons. The first, the fire drill, which is a planned drill that both the residence staff and the fire department were previously notified of, tests how long it takes the residents to evacuate the building and the emergency staff to respond.

Second, there are instances where residents cook food items, usually popcorn, for longer than the allotted time required and it catches on fire.

The final reason, which is the most prevalent and the most dangerous, are fire alarms that are pulled maliciously. Patrick Dixon, the director of Residence Life, has expressed his concern with these malicious false alarms.

"I want to make sure the students know we're taking these pranks seriously," Dixon said. "Not only will we punish them through the university, but we will charge them with a criminal offense."

The residence staff at Kays Hall are worried that this situation will turn into a dangerous one during a real fire. They are afraid that over time residents will ignore the fire alarms, automatically dismissing it as a fake, a concept based off of Aesop's story, "The Boy Who Cried Wolf."

Residents themselves have expressed this concern, as well as the concern that these fake emergencies could be driving emergency responders away from situations that are classified as real emergencies.

In addition to wasting the Jonesboro Fire Department's time, the residence hall may have to pay a price for these false alarms.

According to the Jonesboro City Ordinance No. 1811, if there are over 3 false alarms per calender month, the place in question has to pay $25 per offense.

Kays Hall is currently being assessed by the Jonesboro Fire Department for these fees due to a discrepancy over whether the Residence Hall should be charged or the alleged party pulling the alarms.

Dixon wishes to reduce the number of these malicious alarms without compromising the safety of the residents. There have been several meetings with the community within Kays about these alarms in attempts to stop them and Residence Life has contacted the Jonesboro Fire Department to inquire about hosting fire safety programs for Kays residents.

Residence Life has also posted fliers around Kays Hall notifying residents of a $1000 reward for any information leading to the arrest and convictions of the person(s) responsible for pulling the fire alarm and tampering with the fire alarm system.

"By offering a reward, we believe it's worth the price to catch those who are pulling the alarms," Dixon said, explaining the reasoning behind the reward.

If you have any information that could lead to the arrest and convictions of the person(s) responsible for the malicious fire alarms, contact the Office of Residence Life at 972-2042, or by e-mail reslife@astate.edu

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