Fire alarms in military buildings being updated in South Korea
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — Fire alarms in many U.S. military buildings throughout South Korea remain on an outdated frequency system, though work is being done to see that by early next year all alarms will notify base fire departments automatically, according to military fire officials.
On Jan. 1, South Korea narrowed its band of emergency frequencies. The change meant the alarm systems inside U.S. military buildings — those red boxes with pull switches — would no longer automatically notify on-base fire departments.
Since then, about half the buildings on Yongsan and Camp Humphreys have been upgraded, and both installations should be fully automated by December, said Leopold Dumond, Korea region chief of fire and emergency services.
The overall $1.8 million upgrade is expected to be completed by February, he said Wednesday.
But fire officials still urge residents, workers and visitors to military bases to telephone 911 for help in addition to pulling an alarm.
“They all still have to make the phone call,” Dumond said.
In most cases, the changes involve only a frequency upgrade to work with the South Korean system, Dumond said. All new housing units and prefabricated buildings will have the new system as well, he said.
The deadline to change to the new system crept up on fire officials last year, and they’ve been working to install the new equipment ever since. The South Korean government had begun using the narrower frequency a few years ago.
“I haven’t lost much sleep over this,” Dumond said last week, “just a lot of hair.”