The facilities manager for the Iowa Legislature says there have been two false fire alarms at the statehouse this week. Mark Willemssen says officials are evaluating the fire detection system which was installed a few years ago when statehouse renovations began in earnest. The system replaced the fire detection network that had been installed at the statehouse in the early 1980s.
Willemssen is concerned that people aren’t taking the fire alarms seriously and evacuating the building. “And that’s why I’m hoping that we get to the bottom of why we are getting these false alarms,” Willemssen says. A legislator who is temporarily wheelchair-bound is calling for a review of emergency evacuation plans for the capitol because he was stranded on the second floor during yesterday’s (Wednesday’s) fire alarm.
Willemssen says once the fire alarm goes off, the elevators cannot be used by people in the building. “They go to a specified floor and stop and wait in case fire personnel or whoever needs to use it,” Willemssen says. State troopers are the “first responders” because the Highway Patrol is the agency that guards the capitol. Willemssen says it’s up to the troopers and fire fighters to determine if the fire alarm is legit, and help disabled people in the building out.