False fire alarms can be costly for Kent

Kiera Manion-Fischer

People stood around the third floor of Dunbar Hall as a high-pitched buzzing sound emanated from the fire alarms.

“It smelled like burning toast,” said Michelle Arnst, freshman visual communications design major.

Since the beginning of the semester, Kent State police responded to 118 fire alarms on campus.

It costs the city of Kent $1,127 on average every time the fire department responds to a call, said William Lillich, safety director for the city of Kent.

He said that number includes the cost of being prepared to respond.

Although hair spray and hair products are the number one cause of fire alarms on campus, burnt food and popcorn come in second and third. Popcorn is in its own category in police records because it sets off fire alarms so often, said Ed Moisio, fire prevention and safety coordinator.

Inside each smoke detector, there’s a beam of light that shoots into a mirror, Moisio said.

“If anything interferes with that beam of light – it goes into alarm,” he said.

That’s why hair spray and hair products can set them off.

Moisio said there is one fire alarm call almost every other day.

“We’re way down this year compared to last year in terms of fire calls,” he said.

On Arnst’s floor in Dunbar, she said the girls who had the burnt food were not in the room and had left their door open.

“When you’re cooking, you’re supposed to be there watching it,” Moisio said.

Arnst said people on her floor didn’t leave the building because they could tell it wasn’t actually a fire.

But Moisio said those types of situations can be a problem.

“It’s important that everyone leaves the building when an alarm goes off,” Moisio said. “People think you have time. You don’t have time when there’s a fire.”

Contact safety reporter Kiera Manion-Fischer at [email protected].