Series of Fire Alarms Create Confusion on Campus

Srinidhi Sankar, Staff Writer

A set of three fire alarms went off during 2nd period, 3rd period, and Lunch on Monday, Dec. 11. They were triggered by an unknown source in one of the boys’ bathrooms, a microwave in a classroom in the 50’s wing, and a student pulling the alarm in the cafeteria, respectively.

Prior to the incidents, the Fremont Fire Department and Fremont Unified School District had verified the safety of classrooms and the conditions of sensors. Their comprehensive checklists include the types of wiring and electronics used in classrooms. FUSD maintains the sensors, fire extinguishers, and pull stations; Irvington’s systems and sensors passed the necessary fire code.

Administration remains that the sensors are well-maintained, even though the boys’ bathroom was empty when checked and no fire was found at site. This created suspicion among the administration, who suspected human interference. The second alarm went off due to microwave use.

“The sensors are really sensitive— which is a good thing. Smoke or hot air will sometimes trigger it,” Irvington Principal Ms. Melsby said, “I feel confident that the sensors and system are fine. If there was any issue, maintenance and the fire department would have said something.”

The final alarm was pulled by a student in the cafeteria. Students who pull a prank alarm will face severe consequences including suspension, and repeated offenders can be recommended for expulsion. The offender will be responsible to pay charges as well, because each visit from the fire department costs the school around $500.

“Whenever a student pulls [the alarm], it’s a serious offense, so there are disciplinary consequences,” Ms. Melsby said. “It’s a huge disruption and it takes resources away from the community. We can’t get into this habit.”

When the alarm rang during lunch, students were told to leave campus, creating confusion. During instruction times, students are led by teachers to predetermined locations around the campus, making the process a routine.

“Its easier when something happens during a class period. Kids are contained and you’re with the teacher, so you can just evacuate to your spot. But things like passing period, break, and lunch— it’s hard” Ms. Melsby said.

Managing large-scale evacuation falls under the domain of Irvington’s safety committee, which is comprised of staff that develop and communicate disaster procedures.

“Having that large-scale evacuation, having those procedures in place, that’s something we’re working on this year and going into the beginning of next year,” Ms. Melsby said, “This has to be constantly revised, updated, and practiced.”

Administration is currently investigating bathrooms logs to find the culprit in the boys’ bathroom. In order to prevent events such as these from happening in the future, they are also looking into investing in devices that can identify people that pull fire alarms.