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Gainesville officials: Fire alarm problems at apartment complex being fixed
12272017 FIRE 2
Jonathan Griffin, a resident at The Fields McEver, helped alert residents to a fire in a neighbor's apartment on Christmas morning after discovering that the breezeway fire alarms were not working. - photo by Joshua Silavent

Faulty fire alarms at a Gainesville apartment complex are limited to just one building and should be fixed soon, according to city fire officials.

Residents of the 1900 building at The Fields McEver, formerly known as McEver Vineyards, told The Times that they were only alerted to an out-of-control grease fire in one unit on Christmas morning by a neighbor knocking on their door.

The fire alarms in the building’s breezeway did not work, and residents said that they feared for their lives while the system remained inoperable.

Property management said it is working with fire officials to test alarms, check safety equipment and ensure the problem is remedied as soon as possible.

Gainesville Fire Marshal Chad Payne said the fire alarm company would be on site Wednesday working on the problem.

“They will be on a fire watch by maintenance staff until the alarm is working properly,” he added.

The sprinkler system in the unit where the fire occurred helped to keep the blaze in check, and only reports of smoke inhalation were made.

The apartment suffered fire and water damage, while a few other apartments suffered water damage.

Payne said hose reels are not required and that the sprinkler system is working to standard, which “should protect the residents if a fire should occur.”

Payne said the last fire inspection at the complex was conducted in March and the apartment complex had no violations.

“We take (fire) safety very serious, and this complex is inspected annually for compliance,” he added. “We recommend that if a fire occurs you always should try to evacuate if possible and not try to fight the fire.”

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