Honolulu Star-Bulletin - Kokua Line

Kokua Line

By June Watanabe

Friday, July 9, 1999

Airport alarm
generates slow response

Question: On June 16, we were at Honolulu Airport bidding aloha to relatives returning to Okinawa. About 9:45 a.m., fire alarms went off, with bright red lights flashing and piercing beeps.

We waited for some kind of direction or explanation. There were no security guards around and JAL employees were busy with passengers. People working at kiosks did not seem to be worried. In fact, everyone I spoke with expressed nonchalance, which was alarming in itself. We left about 20 minutes later, with the alarm still ringing.

Did a smoker set off the alarm? Was there a fire or a bomb scare? A simple announcement over the P.A. system could have allayed all fear. Airport security needs to do a better job, even during an unintended emergency.

Answer: It turned out to be a malfunctioning fire alarm. But state airports administrator Jerry Matsuda agreed it could have been handled better.

In light of your query, "We will review our notification procedures and coordinate with the airport tenants to ensure the appropriate evacuation measures are taken to prevent any complacency in such incidents," he said.

Matsuda said the airport's fire alarm system is computerized and connected to the airport maintenance and Airport Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) units. The maintenance unit received the alarm at 9:51 a.m., but the ARFF unit did not activate because of a computer malfunction.

The unit had to be notified manually, causing a slight delay, Matsuda said. Members arrived about 10 a.m. and discovered a malfunctioning smoke detector in the fan room on the top of the roof of the Ewa Concourse, he said.

The alarm was silenced and reset at about 10:07 a.m.

Asked if there were so many false alarms that caused workers to be nonchalant, Matsuda said there were three false alarms at the Ewa Concourse from April to June, all reset within an average time of 20-25 minutes.

Q: We live in the Moanalua Gardens area. For the past three months, a large group has been pounding drums morning to night every weekend. We've called police and the drumming stops, but as soon as police leave, it continues. It's driving us crazy. What can we do?

A: It may be something you have to learn to live with, especially since it appears the group is not breaking any law.

However, the next time the drumming occurs, call police at 911 to file a complaint, said police spokeswoman Michelle Yu. If the drumming starts again, call a second time. At that point, you can ask an officer to come to your home to explain what the situation is, Yu said. It may be the officer did not find the noise "unreasonable," she said.

Moanalua Recreation Center director Erin Uchida said she has received only one complaint about the group that practices Tahitian drumming outside the center. They're like any park user, such as tennis or basketball players, and don't need a permit.

"They're free to come and practice unless there's an ordinance that they're breaking that I'm not aware of," Uchida said.


To Jesse at Harpo's Pizza and Pasta on Kaheka Street, for a random act of kindness to a customer. He said his boss would have done the same thing; therefore, I will continue to support this local business. -- JoDee K. Martin

Need help with problems? Call Kokua Line at 525-8686,
fax 525-6711, or write to P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu 96802.
Email to kokualine@starbulletin.com

E-mail to City Desk

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