Campus / Community / News / January 29, 2014

Knox to see few changes with Galesburg’s new false alarm ordinance

Despite a new Galesburg City Ordinance that will increase the price for each false fire alarm, Knox students will remain largely unaffected.

Before the new ordinance, the city charged $50 for each false alarm for the first three false alarms, and a $100 fee for each false alarm proceeding that up to 10 times a year . Now, the city will charge a $50 fee for the first false alarm and $150 in excess of two in a year, according to the City of Galesburg.

“As far as what will be observed by our students … it’s going to be pretty much the same. The process of what we do here will be pretty much transparent to users or students,” Director of Campus Safety John Schlaf said.

Students will not be asked to pay for the false alarms, which could be triggered by anything from hairspray to shower steam. All alarm fines are charged to the Fees budget, managed by Campus Safety. The budget, which also covers telephone fees and charges for the campus warning text alerts, allocates money in preparation for false alarm charges based on records from previous years. This year, the budget is approximately $5,000.

According to Schlaf, the fire department will only respond if an alarm is activated in a central area — a hallway, stairwell or common room. Fire alarms activated in a specific room are addressed only by Campus Safety, and therefore will not be affected by the new ordinance.

The ubiquitous fire alarms of the Quads will also remain unaffected — alarms will continue to respond sensitively to what are usually false alarms, sending students outside even in the coldest of conditions.

“Sometimes people will say that it seems like you have a high number of false alarms when, in fact, we’re not having a high number of false alarms,” Schlaf said. “We’re having responses to alarm activations, so the alarm’s doing what it’s supposed to do. It’s responding what it’s supposed to respond to.”

The Galesburg Fire Department will also experience few changes as a result of the new ordinance that will affect the city budget.

“That’s the hard part about being a fireman — we treat every call as if it’s the real deal,” said Galesburg Fire Department Battalion Chief Chip Timmons. “It doesn’t make a lick of difference. Don’t matter to me. Every fireman is gonna give 110 percent as far as we’re concerned.”

Kate Mishkin
Kate Mishkin is a senior majoring in English literature and minoring in journalism. She started working for TKS as a freshman and subsequently served as managing editor, co-news editor and co-mosaic editor. Kate is the recipient of four awards from the Illinois College Press Association for news and feature stories and one award from the Associated Collegiate Press. She won the Theodore Hazen Kimble Prize in 2015 and 2014 and the Ida M. Tarbell Prize in Investigate Journalism in 2014. She has interned at FILTER Magazine, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and WGIL radio and the Virginian-Pilot.

Twitter: @KateMishkin

Tags:  Campus Safety false alarms fire alarm galesburg fire department John Schlaf quads

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