Vape pen sets off fire alarm

Ti Windisch

A UW Oshkosh student set off a fire alarm by blowing vapor from an e-cigarette directly into a smoke detector in an attempt to prove the vapor does not set off fire alarms, according to the University Police Department.
UPD cited Eva Solbjerg-Nielsen with a disorderly conduct ticket for setting off a fire alarm via an e-cigarette in South Scott Hall on Sept. 29, and fined Solbjerg-Nielsen $295, according to the police report.
Freshman Dylan Fletcher, who witnessed the event, said Solbjerg-Nielsen responded to questions about covering smoke detectors while vaping by attempting to prove vapor does not activate the alarms.
“She took a really big puff of it and then she walked under the smoke detector and just blew it directly into it,” Fletcher said. “She was like ‘see?’”
UPD Capt. Chris Tarmann said students covering smoke alarms in order to smoke or vape is a threat to public safety on campus.
“It is against policy to vape or smoke inside a building and it is very unsafe to have a smoke detector head covered so we have zero tolerance for this type of behavior in campus buildings,” Tarmann said.
According to Tarmann, UPD has dealt with similar situations numerous times, which led in part to the zero tolerance policy for vaping in campus buildings.
“I’m sure these type of situations had a part in the development of that policy,” Tarmann said.
Fletcher said soon after Solbjerg-Nielsen blew the vapor into the smoke detector, the fire alarm began to sound throughout South Scott.
“It probably took like a minute, and we were kind of just all standing there,” Fletcher said. “And then that minute passed, and then all of a sudden that alarm started going and she just sprinted down the hall. I don’t know where she went.”
Solbjerg-Nielsen said she no longer owns her e-cigarette after the fire alarm went off.
“No I don’t own one anymore,” Solbjerg-Nielsen said. “I was never addicted to nicotine and I rarely ever used it anyways.”
Tarmann said there’s nothing wrong with owning an e-cigarette or vape pen, as long as they are used responsibly and legally.
“It’s not illegal to possess these items,” Tarmann said. “It’s against policy to use them inside of buildings.”
Fletcher said he was angry the alarm went off, especially considering how late it was at the time.
“I was so pissed off,” Fletcher said. “It was like 11:45 at night and people were sleeping and stuff.”
Solbjerg-Nielsen said she was remorseful about the fire alarm, in regards to both students and responders being inconvenienced.
“I wish I could somehow apologize to everybody that I caused an inconvenience to including the fire and police department,” Solbjerg-Nielsen said.
Solbjerg-Nielsen said she thought being cited for the fire alarm going off was excessive because she didn’t intend on it happening.
“I honestly think that the ticket was a bit excessive because it will stay on my record for a big mistake that I made my first year of college,” Solbjerg-Nielsen said. “I think that community service or even a class would be more reasonable because I never meant for the alarm to go off.”
Tarmann said students who set off fire alarms even accidentally can expect to be cited for doing so.
“Blowing smoke or vape into a smoke detector head will set off the alarm,” Tarmann said. “If someone does this they will receive a citation for doing so.”