The Tallahassee Fire Department and FAMU Police Department were called to an emergency in the PaddyFote dormitory on Monday night.
The urgent situation however was not the usual fire or medical crisis.
Freshman Bruce Chapman and his seven friends were watching “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie” on video when an old light fixture in room 201A began shooting out sparks.
“Nothing was on fire but we saw the flame shoot out of the wall,” said the electrical engineering student from Ocala.
Knowing they had just witnessed an explosion of some kind, the men pulled the fire alarm, called 911 and fled “in a hurry,” Chapman said.
When officials from TFD and FAMUPD arrived on the scene, the students went back to the dorm room to inspect the faulty fixture.
“When we looked at the wall we found that the wires really didn’t have any
insulation,” said Arias Martin, 17, a criminal justice student from Miami. “There were wires just thrown in there, like someone just balled them up and pushed them in the wall.”
After the fire department left, the students inspected other places in the dorm, only to discover other signs of disrepair.
“We noticed there were a lot of places where there was no covering on electrical sockets, holes in the walls and frayed wires hanging out of the walls, ” Chapman said.
Martin said the dorm advisor, James Platt, accused him the next morning of unnecessarily pulling the fire alarms and causing the wires to spark.
“When I confronted [Platt] about faulty wiring he changed the [subject],” Martin said. “(He said), ‘There was no fire. You’re going to get fined for pulling the fire alarm.'”
Martin, who was visiting Taylor the night of the incident, said he is being unfairly targeted because of a poor relationship with Platt. Platt declined to comment on the record.
University Housing Office Associate Director Bernard Kelly said Tuesday that the incident is still under investigation and no official action has been taken.
“We believe … the gentlemen that were in the room removed the plate from the wall, therefore exposing the wires from the wall and causing the wires to touch and spark,” Kelly said.
Still, Kelly said he is not ruling out other possibilities and that he plans to have the wires examined.
“What I intend to do is have the University electrician remove the plate and examine the wires to make sure they are safely capped off and safely kept behind the wall,” he said.
All of the students involved deny that they or Martin had anything to do with the wires crossing and insist that the wires were poorly kept.
” (Martin) was on the bottom bunk,” said Taylor. “He couldn’t have reached it.”
Chapman said the students hesitated to report all the problems they encountered because they thought it was a part of the black college experience.
“A lot of things weren’t reported because we accepted them,” Chapman said. “We are at a black university. We’re not used to getting things the way they should be. But it has to stop.
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