By Henry Shorr
The Youngstown Fire Department responded to a small fire at the Courtyard Apartments on Aug. 20. The fire caused only $10,000 in damages and affected only two rooms.
The fire report stated that it was set intentionally by igniting paper towels and other refuse. The fire was no larger than two meters in diameter. According to Captain Kurt Wright of the YFD Fire Investigation Department, the alarm was triggered immediately, which is what the fire department responded to.
“There was no delay. The fire department was initially dispatched for the fire on a fire alarm,” Wright said. “Before they even left the fire station, they had received phone calls from the scene that it was an actual fire, not just a fire alarm. So then they dispatched the full complement of trucks.”
The retinue from the YFD included five trucks and a battalion chief. The fire report explained and Wright corroborated that the fire was contained in one room on the third floor of the apartment. The only damage sustained was to that room and the one directly below due to water damage from the sprinkler.
The fire report also verified the resident who started the fire “self-extricated” themself from the building and was taken to St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital via American Medical Response.
Wright also cleared up some rumors that have been disseminated about the events of the fire. According to Wright, he received calls wildly speculating about various illicit incidents and other rumors which he made sure to dispel.
Joy Polkabla-Byers, associate vice president of Student Experience, pointed out there is training and systems in place to ensure staff and resident safety in these situations, and they all worked as intended.
“There’s processes in place and training of staff … to ensure that they’re evacuating the building; we do testing of our sprinkler system and our alarm system throughout the semester,” Polkabla-Byers said. “All of those are really to prepare individuals so when there’s a situation like there was on Saturday they were properly evacuated from the building … I commend highly the students that were working on Saturday night and the professional staff that was in the courtyard and how well they handled the situation.”
Polkabla-Byers wanted to highlight that everything went right that could in this situation: the alarms alerted the YFD, the sprinkler system put the fire out and evacuation went smoothly. She stressed that Student Experience, which includes housing, is dedicated to making sure that residents on campus have a safe and seamless experience.
“We are committed to the experience that our students are having, and making sure that their needs are met. So whether there were students that needed to be relocated, the university has been in contact with them, making sure that their needs are addressed and that we are committed to making it the best experience possible for our students,” she said.
On Wednesday, the Courtyards sent an email to residents stating it would increase corrective measures and impose fines against individuals who wrongfully trigger fire alarms.
The building is on fire watch until they can be sure the alarm and sprinkler systems are back to normal. The investigation is still ongoing.