Recent incident reveals faulty fire equipment

A grease fire that forced four male students to relocate and left one roommate responsible for the damages has drawn some concerns among students.

The use of multiple fire extinguishers for that fire, which took place two weeks ago in a Palmetto North apartment, has some students wondering what FAMU does to prevent this type of incident.

During the grease fire, a Palmetto North clerk and neighboring residents helped extinguish the flames, but had to use numerous extinguishers because some were already used. This prolonged the fire and increased the level of damage.

Oscar Crumity, the interim director of the housing department, said residential faculty complete health and safety examinations of rooms’ extinguishers.

“Fire extinguishers have inspection tags attached that require certified fire safety technicians’ initials indicating the dates of the inspection,” Crumity said. “However, the facility staff checks monthly to ensure that the extinguishers are properly charged.”

“Students are requested to report any fire safety issues to the faculty’s staff,” he said.

Palmetto South, a campus apartment complex, has the requirements specified by the state. There are emergency lights throughout the hallways and lit fire exits.

Inside the apartments there are sprinklers and fire extinguishers. But many of the extinguishers had not been checked since early September.

Imani Stephens lives in Palmetto South and she said her extinguisher was last checked Sept. 17.

“I saw these two guys come in here. They sprayed for bugs and that’s about it,” said Stephens, 18, a freshman animal science student from Detroit. “I never saw anybody come and check that (fire extinguisher).”

Afton Napper’s extinguisher had similar results. She said her extinguisher was last checked Sept. 16.

Napper, 21, a fourth-year agriculture business student from Washington, said inspection is based mainly on cleanliness.

“They just look at the common area to see if the dining and living area is straight,” she said.

The status of fire safety in Palmetto North was comparable.

Cydney Warfield’s fire extinguisher was new because the apartment already had a small fire in which she and her roommates had to use their previous extinguisher.

“It was a little fire in the oven. It happened early in the afternoon. We had to open the door to get it (the smoke) out,” said Warfield, 18, a freshman nursing student from Chicago.

Although there was a lot of smoke, she said the smoke alarm did not go off. Warfield said she and her roommate reported it and nothing was done about it.

“We reported it the first time,” Warfield said.

When their apartment was later inspected, the housing department fined them for failure to report the use of the fire extinguisher.

“He said we used it, we (already) told him we did. My roommate had to do community service because he said we didn’t tell (housing),” Warfield said.

Crumity said Bruce Fire Safety of Tallahassee provides the fire extinguishers’ service for FAMU’s housing, and fire inspections are required for all public buildings.

Betty McCall, a fire inspector for the Tallahassee Fire Department, said all campus apartments and dormitories are required to have fire extinguishers, exit lights, smoke detectors and emergency lights. The newer and renovated buildings are required to have sprinklers.

McCall said fire extinguishers can be used once and after use they must be reported as being used.

“You service them (fire extinguishers) once a year. Any used (extinguishers) require servicing,” McCall said.

She also said that all state Universities are required to have a company check and record all safety inspections.

“They should have fire safety wardens who go around each month checking the fire extinguishers,” she said.

McCall said emergency lighting is to be tested and serviced every year as well.

Contact A’sia Horne-Smith at