Officials Remove Popcorn Machine From State Capitol After It Triggered Fire Alarms Twice, Forcing Legislators To Evacuate

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Michael Ginsberg Congressional Reporter
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North Dakota officials were forced to remove a popcorn machine after it repeatedly triggered fire alarms in the state capitol building.

The machine set off fire alarms twice on Monday, forcing legislators to evacuate the state capitol building in Bismarck, the Bismarck Tribune reported. The machine was removed on Wednesday, following the clarification of a rule that prevents lawmakers from using kitchen appliances in their offices.

Republican Fargo Rep. Mary Johnson brought the popcorn machine to the capitol, and was making her third batch of popcorn Monday afternoon when it triggered the fire alarm, she told the Bismarck Tribune. Johnson was unaware of a facilities management policy banning popcorn machines outside of designated areas. (RELATED: Congresswoman Serves Up Popcorn To Highlight A Big Threat To Expanding Small Businesses)

Republican Carrington Rep. Chet Pollert, North Dakota’s House Majority Leader, was also unaware of the ban.

“Popcorn cheers people up for a reason,” Pollert told the Associated Press, noting that the machine helped bring together a Republican caucus still reeling from the coronavirus pandemic and the expulsion of a caucus member for sexual harassment. (RELATED: Congressman Accuses Chicago Police Of Relaxing, Eating Popcorn In His Office During Riots)

The facilities management rule prohibits the use of “toasters, popcorn poppers, frying pans, warming plates, or other appliances used to cook food” in areas other than the Capitol Cafe.