False Alarm set off in Johnson



Editor-in-Chief, News Editor

On Sept. 5, just before 2:00 a.m., campus police officers responded to Johnson Residence Hall where the fire alarm echoed throughout the building. The officers were told there was white smoke coming from the second floor, and the fire extinguisher from this floor had been thrown into the bushes on the first floor. 

However, no fire was discovered. According to campus police, someone had tempered with the fire equipment and set off a false alarm.

“Anytime that a piece of fire equipment is tampered with, it is always a huge concern for us because it is putting the entire community at risk,” said Director of Residential Education Mark Jestel.

Demorest Fire Chief Ken Ranalli provided several reasons why tampering with fire equipment is dangerous.

 “One, [the fire equipment] may not be ready when something happens. Two, if [someone] continuously sounds the fire alarm, people get complacent and will not react the way they should when something actually happens,” said Ranalli.

Following this event, Piedmont has replaced the used fire extinguisher and held a safety meeting with the residents of Johnson, but while campus police is investigating the matter, they have not determined who set the fire alarm off or who tampered with the fire extinguisher. 

“The extinguisher is property of the college, so from our end, we have criminal damage to property,” said Campus Police Chief Chanon Pritchard. 

But that is not the only charges the perpetrator may face. According to the Georgia Legislator website, falsely reporting a fire can be charged as a misdemeanor. If the false report incites a panic, it may be charged as a felony. 

Also, according to the Georgia Tech Campus Fire Safety Right-to-Know Act, it is against federal and state laws to tamper with or interfere with safety equipment, including a fire extinguisher. 

According to Jestel, the housing contract provided to students at the beginning of the year states tampering with safety equipment will result in a $500 fine. 

“Everyone has a duty and responsibility to look out for each other,” said Jestel. 

To report a tip or find out more information about this matter, contact Campus Police at (706)939-1349 or Jestel at [email protected]