When the Gong Rings
A Fire History of Charleston, Illinois

138.  FIRE LOG 1966

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Also read: page 139

 


EIU FALSE ALARMS--THEN REAL ALARM

NO FALSE ALARM-- "Was a  Prank"

(An article from the Eastern News, Feb. 8, 1967, by Bill Kaczor)

FALSE ALARMS JEOPARDIZE SAFETY

Nobody really thought that Taylor Hall was on   fire. When  the alarm rang at the Charleston Fire Department, the firemen were convinced it was another false alarm. However, as they have been trained to do, they responded as though it were the real thing.

EIU TAYLOR HALL BURNS

MANY MEN at Taylor Hall failed to take the warning seriously, apparently passing it off as either a test or a false alarm. It was no test though. Taylor was burning. Fortunately the blaze that erupted last week "was contained before it could reach major proportions. The emergency, however, did point out a major weakness in Eastern's ability to cope with such situations.

FIRE ALARMS are made to be believed. Unfortunately that is not the case here. The students have cried wolf too many times. The false alarm is a normal occurrence. Last week's emergency probably made believers out of some Taylor residents. At any rate it should have. For the fire department the problems caused by false alarms are as real as life and death. Many recall the tragedy which just a year ago claimed the life of a Mattoon fire fighter who died in the collision of two fire engines.

EVERY TIME the trucks leave the station house, whether the alarm is real or false, the firemen realize that they may not come back and that the chances of death are just as great on the streets as they are at a fire. This fear is universal among fire fighters. After the Taylor

 

fire, firemen also brought up the question of what would happen if a real fire were to occur after their equipment was wrecked answering a false alarm? One fireman stated that everytime an alarm is turned in on campus, in the back of his mind he remembers the many times that he has been called to Thomas Hall only to be greeted by a mob of cheering and hand-clapping college men. He used the latter term very loosely.

THE TIME has come for students living in dormitories or off-campus housing to realize the danger that they are putting themselves, plus those whose task it is to protect them, in every time a false is turned in. It will take more than good intentions to bring a solution to this problem, however. Strict enforcement is necessary, and individuals who put the public safety in danger should be educated in a swift and decisive manner. The Fire Department willing, a few trips on a speeding fire truck through narrow and traffic congested streets should be lesson enough for any offender. If not, the courts have more conventional methods of justice.

FIRE INJURES FIREMAN Captain Melvin Taylor received smoke damage to his throat when fighting the Taylor Hall fire. He had climbed a ladder to insert a hose into the outside window of the room, when breaking the window and inserting the hose, smoke and heat exploded out and hit him in the face. He said that the room had been stuffed with newspapers. The fire was very hot and intense. [In later years air pacs would be required as basic equipment for firemen. The new pacs would be more efficient and dependable]

See the pictures from the Taylor Hall fire on the next page.

 

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