Frequent fire alarms in GrandMarc cause doubt

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After a fire alarm went off at the GrandMarc apartment complex on Sept. 7 and residents left their rooms, two residents said they contemplated whether or not to take the alert seriously because of false alarms in past semesters.

GrandMarc resident and economics major Benjamin Chinchilla said he lived in the south tower of the GrandMarc since last fall and said he did not evacuate that night because of previous false alarms.

GrandMarc Hall Director Bridgit Breslow said she was concerned when she overheard two students talking about not leaving their apartment due to the false alarms last year.

“It’s really unsafe to ever assume that it’s a false alarm,” Breslow said. “You just never know the severity of it and that’s why you just have to evacuate.”

Junior marketing major and GrandMarc resident Lourdes Safie said she stayed in her apartment for the first 15 minutes of the alarm because she didn’t think anything was wrong. She then moved to the GrandMarc parking garage to escape the sound of the alarm.

Safie said she was used to the alarm sounding multiple times each week last semester.

Breslow said that although not all residents vacated the building, most residents evacuated to the Greene Avenue commuter lot or the GrandMarc garage while the staff checked the rooms in both towers. According to a TCU Police alarm report, five GrandMarc fire alarms have gone off since Oct. 23, 2009.

Sgt. Kelly Ham of the TCU Police Department said the alarm report included false alarms, malfunctions and emergencies.

The Sept. 7 alarm went off at approximately 1:08 a.m. and lasted until almost 2 a.m., keeping residents outside for more than 45 minutes.

Director of Housing and Residential Life Craig Allen said there was no fire, and that the alarm went off as a result of some malicious behavior.

“Students need to understand we will come down hard on this type of behavior,” he said. “Every time students mess around with fire safety equipment they’re putting other students’ lives at risk, and that will not be tolerated.”

Allen said that the fire alert system had passed all of its tests, and that the alarm had nothing to do with a system problem. There will be a scheduled fire drill to alert students to proper fire safety, he said.

“Investigation has been ongoing and is on its way to becoming a criminal matter,” he said. “People are going to understand how very serious this is. Messing around with fire safety equipment is something that is punishable, not just by TCU, but by the city of Fort Worth.”

Breslow said staff were working on documentation with the GrandMarc property manager for helpful information, along with how fire safety and security pertain to the lease residents sign.