Campus security officer puts out fire, prevents extensive damage
If not for some quick action by campus security officer Adam Panisiak, the campus of Boyce College could have sustained extensive damage from a Nov. 21 fire.
Panisiak, a Boyce student from Somerset Ky., says his actions were just a way to serve the seminary community.
“I’m just thankful it didn’t spread any further,” said Panisiak. “We could have had some really serious damage to the building. I’m just thankful I was able to be there and that ... some of the gifts that God has given me and the passions helped me through this.”
The fire started in the Carver Suite, apparently when the motor of a heater in the room produced a short. A facilities worker who was cleaning a nearby restroom smelled smoke and contacted campus security.
“I responded with one of our other guards, Carson [Hawkins],” said Panisiak. “When we arrived, the door was open. Smoke was pouring out probably two feet off the ground of the room. I peeked into the doorway. Smoke detectors were going off in there.
Drawing upon his training as a volunteer fire fighter, Panisiak pulled a fire alarm, grabbed an extinguisher, entered the room on his knees, located the fire and put it out.
Bob Perkins, director of safety and security at Southern, said that Panisiak’s actions model the proper response to a fire.
“Adam heard an audio alarm going off,” said Perkins. “When he realized it was a local smoke alarm, he went and found a pull station to activate the building’s fire alarm system. This enabled others to evacuate and it notified the Louisville Fire and Rescue. This is most important before attempting to fight any fire.”
Although the fire caused several thousand dollars in damage, Louisville fire fighters said that Carver Hall would have sustained far more extensive damage had Panisiak not extinguished the blaze.
According to Panisiak, who hails from Somerset, Ky., putting out the fire was a way for him to serve the institution that provides him with theological education.
“When I first came here I was looking for a job,” he said. “I tried getting a job off campus and it didn’t work out. I prayed that God would open a door, an opportunity for me to actually serve the community, serve the campus in some way. And I saw an opening for security. So I applied and they hired me.”
But Panisiak has not always felt such a strong desire to perform Christian service. He grew up attending a Roman Catholic church and was not exposed to the Gospel until he visited a Southern Baptist church as a teenager. Though the message of the Gospel was confusing to Panisiak at first, he wanted to understand it more fully.
“I kept going to church, and I started really listening to what the pastor had to say and what a couple of my friends had to say. And I heard the testimony of one of my friends ... and I was actually really feeling conviction on my heart,” he said. “... I realized one Sunday morning in Sept. 1996 that I was not a Christian. So I went forward and just prayed and accepted Christ.”
As a new believer in Christ, Panisiak developed a desire to do mission work. And after several years, his passion for missions led Panisiak to commit his life to vocational ministry.
“I thought I was going to go into the Air Force,” he said. “But after pursuing that my own way, God closed the door on that. He pretty much laid a conviction on my heart, a big burden that He didn’t want me to go into the Air Force. And I realized I needed to pursue a career in ministry. I needed to grow more in faith, learn more about His Word ... So I came to Boyce College.”
Panisiak says he is uncertain whether he will continue to work as a law enforcement officer upon the completion of his theological training. For now though, he is thankful for the opportunity to serve the Southern Seminary community.
He concluded, “Right now, it’s a way I can serve the community. I’m hoping that possibly I might be able to serve in this way in future ministry. But if not, I’m open to whatever God has in store for me.”