False fire alarm temporarily clears Lexington's 911 call center

The 911 emergency call center at Lexington police headquarters was evacuated briefly early Tuesday morning because of a false fire alarm.

Assistant Police Chief Robert Stack said the alarm went off about 5:15 a.m., when an employee in the center turned on a heating unit that hadn't been used for some time.

Stack said electronic equipment in the call center usually produces enough heat to keep the room comfortable. But with Tuesday morning's frigid weather, someone turned on the heat.

Dust that had accumulated on the heating unit's elements burned away, setting off the alarm, Stack said. The reaction triggered the release of a fire-suppressant chemical into the room, forcing employees to evacuate.

About six employees on duty at the time left the center and moved to the Third Street fire station, where they continued to handle 911 calls, Stack said.

Employees returned about 30 minutes later, after the 911 center had been aired out, he said.

Only the 911 center was affected. Other areas of police headquarters continued normal operations.

"No fire, no damage, nobody hurt. Just an inconvenience on a very cold morning," Stack said. "The public would have noticed no difference if they called 911."