False alarms concern fire dept.

The Portland Fire Department has dispatched firefighters toPortland State’s Ondine building on five different occasionsthroughout the past two months, expecting to find a code threefire.

Each time when they have arrived, however, there has been nofire in sight, leading to suspicions that students living in thebuilding are pulling the fire alarm as a prank.

“It’s very dangerous to go code three,” public informationofficer Lieutenant Allen Oswalt said.

According to Oswalt, when an alarm is pulled it sends a signalto alert dispatch, which then sends a call to the station.Immediately a fire engine is sent out with driver, paramedic,officer, firefighter and lights and sirens. In addition, PortlandState’s response team includes Campus Security, a residentassistant and a senior staff graduate student.

“When a fire alarm is pulled maliciously, the risk can’t bemeasured in dollars,” Oswalt said. “Our team is out of service forany other call that might come in. That means if someone is havinga heart attack, or there is a traffic accident, or a real fireoccurs we won’t be able to get to them. These types of acts putevery student and every person traveling in the area at risk,”Oswalt said.

A fire engine can respond and arrive at a destination in fourminutes. It can take anywhere from 15 minutes to one hour to assessthe situation. To prepare another engine to be ready for a call cantake up to 10 minutes.

When the alarm is pulled, every resident must vacate thebuilding to a designated place. The Ondine building has 13 floorsoccupied by students.

“It is taken very seriously if all residents do not vacate. Itis against the housing policy to remain in your apartment duringone of these,” Director of Residence Life Don Yackley said.

The Portland Fire Department has 29 locations situated aroundthe Portland area and responds to 80 different schools. In a normalmonth, each precinct will respond to at least one malicious falsealarm per month. Each false alarm costs the Fire Department upwardsof $200.

“Truthfully, we get a whole lot more calls from the elementaryand middle schools than from college,” Oswalt said. “So, really,whoever is doing this is resorting to elementary behavior. We wouldlike to think that college students are more mature than that.”

If a student is caught maliciously activating a fire alarm theycould face termination of their housing contract and expulsion fromPSU.

“Any information anyone can give us would be very muchappreciated,” Yackley said. “We are doing everything we can.”