Fire alarms persist due to faulty system

Multiple fire alarms have taken place due to a glitch in the wiring system.

A glitch in the wiring system has been causing the slew of fire alarms reported by Campus Safety, according to senior director of Facilities Services Brian Phillips.

“They’re not actually alarms, they’re troubles,” he said. “By the time the officer gets down there [to investigate], the trouble has cleared itself.”

Although the alarm set-offs listed in the crime log are a regular occurrence on a medium-sized college campus like Biola, the repeated reports from Hope Hall over the past few weeks suggest an issue with the system.

Silent incidents such as these are reported in Campus Safety’s online crime log per Campus Safety protocol. These incidents explain the 20 alarms that have occurred in the past week.

Biola’s alarm system is similar to that of a hotel, according to Campus Safety public information officer Justin Shelby. This means that if an alarm goes off in a dorm lobby or other common area, the entire building alarm will alert Campus Safety. Often, however, a report will show that an alarm was tripped even if there is no sound.

“Any sort of minor issue gets reported back to our dispatch. All of them show up in the log as false fire alarms,” Shelby said. “That’s why there are so many.”

Electrical interference possible cause of alarm triggers

Simplex Alarms, the company that installed and maintains Biola’s alarm system, has been trying to determine the cause of the tripped alarms, according to Simplex’s service supervisor Robert Parra.

“[Simplex has] been out repeatedly … trying to troubleshoot this,” Parra said. “It’s been relatively time-consuming.”

The company is scheduled to return Monday to further investigate the problem. The company thinks it may be possible that an unknown interference is setting off the alarm. Parra said that this unknown cause does not make the system any less reliable in ensuring students’ safety.

“The alarm’s system works. We’re just getting intermittent interference while it’s doing its continuous self-check,” he said. “If there were to be a fire in the building, the system would do its thing.”

Students unaffected by accidental alarms

All campus residential alarms were checked over the summer for effectiveness in detecting smoke and fire. Parra said he is not worried about students becoming desensitized to alarms being triggered, since the troubled alarms do not make noise.

“The alarms are not sounding in the building. They report to a switchboard,” he said. “The people who do realize it are the Campus Safety officers who have to go down and check the panel and make everything is operating correctly.”

If there was potential danger for students, Campus Safety would put a dorm on fire watch, according to Shelby. This means that a Campus Safety officer would patrol that dorm 24 hours a day in order to ensure that the area is safe.

While Campus Safety hopes to have the electrical issues sorted out as soon as possible, Shelby said that problems are likely to arise, especially as the rainy season sets in.

“I’m going to predict that when it rains, you’re going to see a lot of those false fire alarms [on the crime log] because the rain messes with [electrical] stuff a little bit,” he said.

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Fire alarms persist due to faulty system