In The News

A PR Look: Copper Beech Townhome Fires

Over the past few months there has been three different fires at Copper Beech, a townhouse community filled with Georgia Southern students. Each of these fires were started by different things: lint left in the dryer, a cigarette, and a grill. Luckily, no one was harmed, but Copper Beech was unsure if the fire alarms activated.

Approximately eight months ago, I called the Copper Beech Office asking about the beeping fire alarms in my apartment. They told me that meant that the battery was low, and I needed to change them. It may not seem like a big deal, but it can be.

Because of the busy aspects of a student’s life, most college students would just ignore the beeps or even disconnect the alarm. However, I went to Wal-Mart and bought the battery. The battery costs between $3-15 dollars (for one or two). The price depends on the quality of the battery. I paid $10 for three batteries for my fire alarms.What are the issues?

  • Residents are not informed that they are responsible for the fire alarms when they sign the lease. It is listed in the Copper Beech lease, but no students read through the multiple pages in the lease before signing.
  • When I asked the Copper Beech Office if the alarms are checked before new residents move in, they told me that they didn’t know. New residents automatically assume that the fire alarms work.
  • Students are too lazy/busy to by fire alarm batteries. I know because I am a student.
  • Some students don’t know how to test or change the batteries in their alarms. It’s true.

The most recent fire at Building F.

Crisis Management

When I asked Copper Beech what they planned on doing due to the recent fires, they listed two things:

  1. Sending a letter out to residents about fire safety.
  2. A $1000 fine for anyone that throws a cigarette on the ground.

My PR Perspective

Is this enough? Should it be Copper Beech’s responsiblity to test and change the batteries of the fire alarms? I think that the newsletter is a positive action, but I don’t think that students will take it seriously. The fine for cigarettes will be effective if it is enforced. (Most rules about grills, kegs, ect. have not been enforced.) My solution would be for Copper Beech to check fire alarms every six months and before new tenants move in. I think that this would not only decrease the danger to its residents, but it will keep Copper Beech safe from a lawsuit. Some residents may not know that their alarms are dead because they haven’t been checked in years. What do you think?

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