Emergency calls and triggered fire alarms at UC Santa Barbara have spiked in the last week since school began, the Santa Barbara County Fire Department said.
Twelve fire alarms went off between Sept. 24 and Oct. 3, according to Mike Eliason, SB Fire spokesperson. On average, the fire department typically responds to 10 to 15 fire alarms per month.
Eliason said the fire department responded to 51 calls on campus and in Isla Vista in the same time period, 39 of which were emergencies and 12 of which were alarms.
He said the increase in alarms could be attributed to the increase in people using campus facilities, although there is no “long-term discernible pattern” as to why alarms go off as often as they do. According to Eliason, most calls happen on Friday and Saturday night in I.V.
Eliason said fire alarms are often triggered in various ways. One fire crew member claimed a spider had even triggered one alarm.
“There have been times where literally a spider crawls up inside and sets off a sensor,” Eliason said in an email.
The fire department responded to two calls provoked by the smell of dust from a construction site on campus Tuesday. During the school year, alarms are often set off by burnt popcorn or rice in communal kitchens.
“There are more people using hot plates [and] making microwave popcorn than in the summer,” Eliason said in an email. “Take for instance yesterday’s call with the dust. In the summer, someone might not have been there (as it turned out) to pull the alarm.”
The only damage in these situations is “slight embarrassment” for the person who pulled the alarm, Eliason said, but it is best to be cautious.
“We do not mind responding to these calls, that is why we are here, to serve the public. We send a lot of resources to calls, because we can always turn them back if they aren’t needed,” he said in an email.
He said pulling false fire alarms “very rarely occurs” at UCSB. Pulling a false fire alarm in California is a felony and can include a punishment of imprisonment, a fine of no less than $500, no more than $10,000 or both, according to state law.
Annual Fire Prevention Week is Oct. 8 to 14 and the county fire department’s focus this year is preparation, according to Eliason.
Every second counts in a fire, he said, and can “mean the difference between residents of our community escaping safely from a fire or having their lives end in tragedy.”
To prevent fires, the county fire department recommends drawing a map of one’s home and marking two exits for each room, as well as a path outside.
In the event of a fire, the fire department also recommends closing doors while evacuating a building since it can possibly slow down the spread of smoke, heat and fire. Numbers on your home’s apartment should be clearly marked so firefighters may easily locate a fire when it occurs.
A version of this article appeared on page three of the October 5, 2017, print edition of the Daily Nexus.