Crying "Fire" Can Burn You

When students do return to Tallahassee, the number of prank fire alarms soars. Firefighters say they're trying to stomp out the pranks before someone gets hurt. Fire officials say each year when classes begin at area universities they see a 20 to 30 percent increase in false alarms, and they say it has to stop.

Students living in Kellum Hall at FSU had a rude awakening Thursday night.

"It was like 12:30 and we had a fire alarm, everybody had to run downstairs and we didn't go back up until 1:30 this morning," says Shawn Amisal.

Firefighters say they responded to Kellum twice Thursday night, once after students pulled a fire alarm, and again when firecrackers were set off in an elevator. They say both calls were dangerous wastes of their time.

"When we're leaving, we don't know if it's a true emergency or not, but we have to treat it as one, so we're responding with lights and sirens," says Tom Quillin.

Fire officials say last night's false alarms virtually emptied this station. They say if a real fire had been called in, there was only one truck left to respond, and that's not the only dangerous situation when false alarms become the norm in dormitories.

"I didn't want to get up and leave. I live on the first floor so it wasn't that bad, but still, I was really tired," says Jeremy Twachman.

Firefighters say it may seem like fun and games, but when you play with fire, people are eventually going to get burned. Officials say two other times during the year they see significant increases of false alarms is during exams, and right before breaks.

Students caught pulling fire alarms for no reason will be kicked out of campus housing and possibly expelled, and will probably face criminal charges as well.