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False Fire Alarms Routine At North Texas Apartment Complex

(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Andrea Lucia
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DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – Screeching alarms in the middle of the night, it’s a scenario that residents of one North Teas apartment complex say they are far too accustomed to. A real emergency is one thing, but residents say they’re tired of being woken up by false fire alarms.

A number of people living at the Phoenix Midtown Apartments say they’re fighting to get out of their leases. Fire alarms at the complex have been going off an average of more than once a week.

Dallas Fire Rescue confirms the alarms have sounded 19 times since the beginning of December, always overnight or in early morning hours.

DFR spokesperson, Jason Evans, said some annoyed residents, trying to have peace and quiet, have even begun tampering with the fire system. 
In a letter dated March 4, a property manager warned, “A lot of residents have disconnected their horns, which [is] against city code.”

The letter threated residents saying they could be hit with fines. 
Property managers spent the next two days intentionally setting off alarms during daylight hours to determine which ones needed to be re-connected.

“It’s really startling because you don’t know what’s happening,” said tenant Farheen Ibrahim. 
Ibrahim said the first time she remembers the fire alarm sounding as in mid-December.

“It must have gone off for like an hour,” she said.  “I was really annoyed. I had to work the next day.  I didn’t get much sleep, so I was pretty much like a zombie.”

Other residents have posted online reviews, on sites like Yelp, describing “multiple sleepless nights” when alarms sounded between “30 minutes to way over an hour.”

“It goes off everywhere.  It goes off in my living room, in my bedroom, in the hallways,” said Ibrahim. “Two o’clock in the morning. Five o’clock in the morning. You wake up, you’re disoriented.” Ibrahim now heads to a friend’s home to get rest.

“I think it’s pretty dangerous,” said resident Desiree Lawrence. 
She worries what would happen in a real emergency. 
“Because I don’t think anyone’s gonna take the fire alarms seriously when it does go off ‘cause they go off all the time.”

According to Evans, the city could fine the complex $500, if it fails to address the issues causing the alarms to go off. The department has declined to do so yet.

A corporate spokesperson for Gables Residential issued a statement that said, in part, “We are aware of the fire alarms issue at Phoenix Midtown and have worked diligently to bring it to a resolution. The issue was resolved in February.”

The statement did not address the most recent alarm that went off on March 4.

Ibrahim said, during winter months, managers told her freezing temperatures caused the false alarms. Evans said the current issue involves a loss of pressure in the sprinkler system.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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