Temple Tower’s fire alarm system came under scrutiny last week when the building was not alerted to a fifth floor kitchen fire on the West side.
Temple University Fire Marshal Carl Holmes said the fire started in the oven of an unidentified resident last Wednesday, Sept. 4.
The student had put a box of aluminum foil in the broiler pan of her oven, mistakenly thinking that it was a storage drawer.
Holmes said the full alarm would not go off unless smoke enters a common area, such as a hallway or laundry room.
Instead, smoke will only set off the room’s detector and trigger alert lights in the main lobby.
“The system worked exactly as it was supposed to,” he said.
When the resident turned the oven on, the cardboard box caught on fire and smoldered. The residents initially tried to put out the fire with their room’s fire extinguisher, but were unsuccessful.
Towers maintenance personnel were unsure as to why the full system had not activated and refused to comment on the matter.
Some students commented that they felt unsafe knowing that there had been a fire and that the alarm system had not gone off.
About 20 firefighters arrived on the scene within minutes after the apartment’s smoke detector went off, and the fire was quickly extinguished.
The oven appeared damaged after the fire.
Holmes said most of the damage was soot from the smoke and that little actual fire damage had occurred because the fire was contained in the oven.
Temple Towers had a fire drill the following Monday, and the full fire alarm was activated. The fire drill had been scheduled prior to the fire.
Brian White can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org