A fire alarm that triggered at about 2:10 p.m. Monday forced the evacuation of the Hutto-Patterson Gymnasium sending crowds of students and staff out into the Alumni Commons.”It was a false activation, someone pulled the fire alarm,” said Michael Despain, PCC police officer. “Ten minutes later apparently the same person activated the alarm in the student parking lot,” Despain added.
A male student, whose class was in the gym, was told to leave by his instructor, but the student refused to leave. The student remained in the lobby of the gym and only left after campus police arrived and ordered the student to leave the building.
“That can cause more of a problem because we are focused on getting the student out instead of the situation,” said Despain.
Though this incident may have caused complications in student and staff schedules a false activation of a fire alarm is not very common.
“Students have been mature about things like this. They realize it is a inconvenience for them,” said Despain.
While the crowd sought some shade from the sun, some were distraught.
“I just don’t understand how this could occur,” said Destiny Whitfield, a broadcast journalism major.
Lt. Brad Young of the PCC Police Department, using a megaphone, ordered the crowd to keep clear. “Stand back 100 feet,” he said, while the building was inspected for any signs of fire or damage.
At the time of the inspection and after, the main concern was not to catch the individual who triggered the alarm. Despain said that when responding to a fire alarm, protocol must be followed. Action to find a suspect is secondary compared to safety precautions.
With students passing by the commotion some wondered what happened.
“I saw it and everyone standing there while I was going to the cafeteria,” said Angelina Melendez, theater major.
Just a few minutes later another fire alarm in the Bonnie Avenue parking structure sounded. The alarm continued intermittently until at least 3:30 p.m.
After the structure was deemed safe the campus police tried to deactivate the alarm, which glitched, resulting in a call to facilities to turn off the alarm.
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