Local News

St. Augustine's Students Fined for False Fire Alarms

Posted May 9, 2007
Updated May 14, 2007

— St. Augustine's College has started fining every student in dorms where false fire alarms occur in an effort to cut out the act, which fire officials say can have deadly consequences.

Since Jan. 1, the Raleigh Fire Department has responded to 27 false alarms on campus. Two dozen occurred at one dorm, Weston Hall, at all hours of the day with the most recent being Tuesday.

"We want to hit students where they hurt," said Cynthia Beamon, vice president of student affairs at St. Augustine's.

She said all students in the affected dorm must pay $25 each time an alarm is pulled and there is not a fire. Since the policy has been in place, the college has imposed the fine five times at Weston Hall – a total of $125 per student. There are about 300 students in the dorm.

Beamon couldn’t say whether the policy has been in place long enough to be effective.

"We are getting their attention; we want to get their attention," Beamon said. "We want them to know how important it is that they participate in assisting us in solving this problem."

The school is also looking at other options such as increasing security and possibly adding surveillance cameras.

Also at issue is the city's involvement and the impact the false alarms is having on the city and its fire resources.

Raleigh Assistant Fire Chief Larry Stanford said it is typical for three fire engines, a truck company and a battalion chief to respond to each alarm. The false calls, he said, take away valuable resources.

"It seems like a harmless prank," Stanford said. "But it's not. People will get complacent when they have so many."

The fire department has held fire-safety forums for students, warned them that pulling fire alarms is a crime and is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the person or people responsible for pulling the alarms.

And although the city can fine the school up to $500 per false alarm under a 2004 ordinance, Stanford said they are not doing this, right now, because the department is trying to work with the college to solve the problem.

But in reports, as late as last month, fire captains told security officers at the scene that the false alarms were becoming a serious problem at the school and that "there needed to be more effort on their part to thwart the problem."

"I think that more aggressive action by the school and Raleigh Fire Department Fire Prevention is needed," a fire official stated in another report.

Officials in city government could not say exactly how the many false alarms at St. Augustine's have an impact on the city, because they did not know about them until they were asked by WRAL.


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  • Lightfoot May 11, 2007

    anonimo_cecchino...post it again! ...so the rest of us can see what others are complaining about...

  • HangOn May 11, 2007

    This is racism. Call up the black panthers, beat some pots n pans!

  • wynnwilson May 11, 2007

    Wonder if the Rev's Jackson , Sharpton, & that other fat negro guy with no neck ; oh yea Rev Barber will make an issue of this ?

  • kursk1488 May 10, 2007

    The folks at St Aug's have refused to do anything about the problem of the false alarms. They have not co-operated at all. The RFD has tried to get it through their heads, but it goes no where. The college is making money off the students and parents by fining them and not getting fined by the city/RFD. Chief Stanford doesn't fine his brothers and sisters and thats a crying shame and is not right. He should fine the college just like everyone else who has multiple false calls. Make the college pay the city the thousands of dollars it owes. The RFD hates going over there, esp when its at 2-3am and 2-3 times a day, plus all the shootings and stabbings that occur there.

  • Derrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr May 10, 2007

    Why is this even newsworthy? It's a private school, who cares what they do. It's an old practice too. When I was a freshman in 1994 they had the same policy where I went to school too.

  • wstarhawks May 10, 2007

    think what the fine is trying to do is to "encourage" the masses to turn in the perpetrators, I applaude their efforts.

    That is like saying if you have cars speeding down your street, we are going to fine you until all the speeders are caught. so you need to turn in the speeders.

  • bluemustang1913 May 10, 2007

    "Time to set up cameras near the boxes" - rev rb

    "When the alarm was pulled, the ink would spray on to the hands of the person that activated the alarm (the ink was invisible to the naked eye, but VERY visible under a black-light)." -JBunny

    they had to have collected tens of thousands of dollars so far, maybe over a hundred thousand.

    maybe they could take some of that and pay for cameras, or some of the ink to catch the perpetrator and make this stop.

    seems so simple, i don't understand, what possible reason could any one have for not doing that? i don't get it.

  • anonimo_cecchino May 10, 2007

    Folks, there was nothing racist in my comment, I don't have a sheet.If you read race into my comment, look into your own hearts, and see what stereotypes you hold yourself. I apologize for bringing your racism to the front of your mind. And WRAL did delete the comment.

  • gjp032 May 10, 2007

    I think what the fine is trying to do is to "encourage" the masses to turn in the perpetrators, I applaude their efforts.

  • Munchie May 10, 2007

    What in the world!!! If I were innocent I would not pay! (my comment was deleted...guess WRAL didnt like the abbreviation I used..)