Evacuate if you hear alarm: fire chief

FORT FRANCES—While an alarm going off at the Memorial Sports Centre on Monday evening ended up being a malfunction in the fire detection system, Fire Chief Gerry Armstrong wants to send a message to the public: if you ever hear an alarm ringing, evacuate the building.
Chief Armstrong said Thursday the incident made it clear to him the reason why the public must always keep in mind the same evacuation protocol they’ve been taught since they were school children.
“The arena was occupied fairly extensively. There was a lot of people there to deal with, and it makes it difficult for the firefighters if they have to start assisting staff to evacuate people, which in this case, they did.
“Consequently, they can’t go on with what they need to do—to check out the alarm, to try to find the source of the problem,” he remarked.
“If the bells ring, we expect people to exit the building and don’t come back in until we give the ‘all clear’ signal.”
“It doesn’t matter what building you’re in, if the bells are ringing, there’s a reason they’re ringing,” Chief Armstrong stressed. “Whether it’s a malfunction or not, until someone confirms that, err on the side of caution.
“We want to ensure people are safe. That’s what we’re paid for. And we need their co-operation.”
While the fire alarm was a mechanical malfunction in this instance, the fire chief said another problem can be false alarms caused by mischief-makers.
“That’s a criminal offence to do that. While it can be difficult to catch people in those scenarios, that’s not the point—you can endanger people’s lives when those things happen.
“That’s the message people need to understand,” Chief Armstrong stressed.
In related news, Chief Armstrong said the cause of a fire on the 1000 block of Scott Street late Tuesday night remains under investigation.
A four-unit apartment building was destroyed by the blaze, which was believed to have started in one of the ground floor apartments.
Thankfully, no injuries were reported, said Chief Armstrong.
(Fort Frances Daily Bulletin)