Seattle officials warn city workers: Don't burn the popcorn

Sunday, June 17, 2007

SEATTLE -- If you have to pop, know when to stop, Seattle city workers have been warned.

"We continue to see a high number of instances of employees burning microwave popcorn and triggering the building smoke alarms," the city's Fleets and Facilities Department said in a memo to employees in the city government's three downtown buildings.

"This is a serious issue which requires Fire Department emergency response, building evacuation and resetting of building systems."

City hall and the Seattle Municipal Tower have both had popcorn-related evacuations. Last month, the 11-story Justice Center was evacuated because of burned popcorn -- for the eighth time in three years.

If things don't improve, a popping prohibition could be imposed, officials told The Seattle Times for an article published Thursday.

The memo advises workers to "please read and follow package instructions. Stay by the microwave and listen to the pop, to know when to stop."

A microwave popcorn ban isn't imminent, said Pedro Vasquez, facilities operations director with Fleets and Facilities.

"But this is an issue that is causing a real impact to us," he said. "It's definitely an option down the road if things don't improve."

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