This is the type of story that we run across all too often at en-Gauge. Some pranksters at Western Washington University have taken to pulling fire alarms in the middle of the night. And to make things worse, there have been several instances where fire extinguishers have gone missing or have been discharged during the same time period. These types of actions when found in combination can increase the likelihood of a tragedy occuring in the event of an actual emergency.
We run across these stories ALL the time. Fire extinguishers are the first response against indoor fires. Properly functioning fire extinguishers can put out the majority of early stage fires. In order to protect the lives of those who you are responsible for it is important to ensure that your fire extinguishers are working properly. Here are 10 recent incidents in which fire extinguishers were stolen or vandalized leaving a building at risk in the case of Dickenson High or and in extreme cases like the motel fire in Hoover Alabama, resulted in loss of life.
Unfortunately, the desire for fun and games has trumped the memory of a deadly fire at Nebraska Weslyan campus. 4 short years after a 19 year old student was killed in a fraternity fire at Weslyan, fire safety has taken a back seat to good times. Acoording to the Lincoln Journal Star:
Topics: Fire Extinguisher Inspections, Fire Extinguisher Vandalism, Fire Extinguisher, Codes and Standards, Annual Inspection, Fire Extinguisher Inspection, Campus Fire and Security, 30 Day Fire Extinguisher Inspection, Fire Fatality, Fire Marshals, Depressurized Fire Extinguisher
Vandals continue to do thousands of dollars of damage and interrupt business and community activities by carelessly using fire extinguishers in acts of vandalism. We continue to be amazed a how many articles come across our desk describing the damage and disruption caused by these acts of fire extinguisher vandalism. Here are just a handful of the examples from the last few weeks.
Michigan Church Close For Over A Week Due to Fire Extinguisher Vandalism
The Eureka Christian Church in Clinton County Michigan was extensively vandalized by intruders that took delight in having a fire extinguisher fight with multiple dry chemical fire extinguishers. According toWILX.com:
Volunteers showed up at Eureka Christian Church to help clean up, but were shocked to find more damage than they could handle. Some people snuck into the church gym and had a ball blasting three fire extinguishers.
"It's everywhere. It's on the tables, on the chairs, on the lights, and on the floor. It's just filth," said Eureka Christian Church member Karry Shears of the extinguisher residue.
"When I walked in and saw the damage my heart fell to the ground," said 43-year church member Todd Colley.
...Their insurance company estimates the job will take at least two weeks to clean, but has not determined how much the damage will cost.
The residue for the fire extinguishers is still thick in the air 3 days after the incident and has covered nearly every surface.
A long term concern the church may need to address is that the dry chemicals from extinguishers is corrosive to electronics and extremely difficult to remove from the delicate instrumentation. The best way to discourage fire extinguisher vandalism is to know when it is taking place by using a fire extinguisher monitoring solution like that provided by en-Gauge.
Vandals Coat Spokane, WA School Gyms with Fire Extinguishers
In an all to familiar story, vandals broke into a school overnight and the staff came in to find a huge mess and a major disruption to business as ususal.
This photo from KREM.com gives an indication of just how much area a vandal can impact by discharging just a single fire extinguisher.
Former Hewlett-Packard Building Vandalized with Fire Extinguishers
In Greeley, Colorado police arrested 3 teenaged boys involved in a truly expensive act of vandalism. According to The Greeley Tribune:
Three 16-year-old boys were arrested by Greeley police after they were found inside the old Hewlett-Packard building in west Greeley, where they were accused of causing up to $100,000 in damage.
Greeley police spokesman Sgt. Joe Tymkowych said police received a call from a watchman at the plant, in the 900 block of 71st Avenue, at about 11 a.m. Thursday. The caller said he saw three boys setting off fire extinguishers inside the building.
Police arrived minutes later and found the three boys hiding on the roof of the building.
Based on the feedback from the community regarding this story on the Tribune website, passions are running high about the amount of damage and the need to make an example of these vandals.
$10,000 of damage to Eureka, MO High School Pool due to Fire Exinguisher Vandalism
Why is it that schools get hit so hard by vandals that think it is funny to discharge these vital life safety devices as a prank. With the vandals caught in this situation and a $10K price tag plus criminal charges pending, they probably no longer think it was a very clever idea. According to the Eureka-Wildwood Patch:
Damage to the school's pool was deemed "extensive," and estimated to cost more than $10,000.
Wiegand said the police report filed by Eureka police and school resource officer Michael Smith indicated the incident was reported by Eureka's athletic director Jason Green.
"(Green's) statements outlined that he found chemicals floating in the pool from fire extinguishers being sprayed there, and on the equipment of the school's aquatic sports department, which rendered the pool and items unoperable," Wiegand said.
....Monday night, Eureka High School physical education teacher and swim coach Sharon Wasson said the pool underwent extensive cleaning, but that the swimmers were happy to have it return to operational. St. Louis-based catastrophe and restoration company CATCO, handled the cleaning project. She said they did a phenomenal job with the situation.
Don't be taken by surprise by vandals. Start monitoring your fire extinguisher 24/7/365 with the en-Gauge electronic fire extinguisher monitoring system and be sure that your first line of defense against fires is where is needs to be, accessible and ready for proper use.