Local News

Smoke Alarms Get Credit for Saving UNC Students

Posted November 19, 1996 12:00 a.m. EST

— Students in a University of North Carolina dormitory were forced out into the cold early Tuesday morning when smoke alarms sounded. A fire started on the third floor of Joyner Dormitory, sending about 169 women running for safety.

Investigators say the fire ignited in a pillow that was placed too close to a lamp. No injuries were reported.

The dorm is not equipped with a sprinkler system, but it was equipped with smoke alarms that automatically reported the fire to campus police. The fire was under control within 13 minutes of the 1:20 a.m. alarm.

Four rooms were damaged by heat and smoke in Tuesday's fire. Residents of those rooms had to spend the rest of the night in other quarters, but all others living in the dorm were allowed to return to their rooms.

The fire comes just one week after the Chapel Hill Town Council passed a new ordinance requiring installation of sprinklers in fraternity and sorority houses. Five students were killed in a Mother's Day fire at the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity house on Cameron Avenue.

Robert Bosworth, assistant fire chief of the Chapel Hill Fire Department, says the school is adding sprinkler systems as it renovates dormitories.

Joyner and 26 other UNC-CH residence halls are equipped with the automatic smoke alarms. Old East and Old West, the two halls most recently renovated, also have sprinklers. Other campus halls are scheduled to be retrofitted for sprinklers as funds become available in conjunction with other planned renovations.