, Muskogee, OK

March 20, 2014

Number of false fire runs alarming

— Bacone College is one fire away from a possible catastrophe.

That’s why it’s good that college officials are addressing a problem of false alarms originating from the school.

The plan, implemented last week, is seen as a way to minimize the risk to firefighters, students and public safety. The need for such a plan was prompted by a complaint filed by a representative of International Association of Fire Fighters Local 57.

Documents obtained by the Phoenix show Muskogee firefighters made 340 runs to the college since Jan. 1, 2010, most of which were responses to false alarms. Each response requires manpower to operate four fire trucks and a command vehicle that respond to each call plus the time it takes to clear and secure campus buildings.

What’s most frustrating about this isn’t the use of manpower, the wasted time or the wasted money. While those are problems, the most alarming part of these false-alarm runs were the students who refused to leave the buildings after the alarm sounded.

It’s a severe case of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf,” and could be catastrophic if a fire were to break out. Those students who don’t leave because they expect it to be a false alarm could perish.

Mike Miller, Bacone’s senior vice president of institutional advancement, said a meeting with the students who live in the dorms on campus most associated with fire alarms went well, and the school anticipates fewer fire calls in the future.

It’s a problem that needs to be addressed, and that’s why we’re glad to see Bacone officials treat the matter seriously.