Faulty fire system fuels the flame of panic

Shariyah Bailey
A fire alarm caused minor panic on Oct. 23. Photo courtesy of Shariyah Bailey

A mishap in the kitchen triggered the fire alarms, causing the evacuation of the entire student body and staff Tuesday afternoon.
Students evacuated at approximately 2 p.m. on Oct. 23 after fire alarms started ringing. They were let back into the building, but once the final bell rang, an announcement over the PA system asked remaining students inside to exit the building immediately.
“We preset fire drills because of safety codes,” Timothy Youngblood, associate principal, said. “There was a faulty sensor in the kitchen because of construction in the building and the alarm went off. The alarm that was not planned. We had a staff meeting about safety and security, but this fire alarm was not a part of that. Since it rang so late in the day, we decided to move everyone outside. The fire department arrived and directed us to move students out so they could inspect the systems. Students were not allowed back in the building until further notice, as directed by the fire department.”
Fire trucks arrived at the building soon after the final bell, not allowing students in the building until the situation was deemed safe.
“By 2:20 p.m., the buses were still there,” Maggie Colangelo ‘19 said. “I saw the fire trucks and other vehicles start to arrive at 2:25 p.m. When they were evacuating kids out of the building, I saw some teachers and cops yelling and herding kids out of the building and would not let them back in. I was caught in the middle of it, which was kind of annoying. I left my homework in there and could not get it back. I knew kids who left backpacks, wallets and phones in the buildings. Most of the teachers were calm, but I feel like those in the hallways were making it a bigger deal than it was.”
Despite some confusion, the situation was benign. No one was harmed during the evacuation and there was no fire.
“There were no injuries,” Trica LaTour, school resource officer, said. “During the after school evacuation, it seemed like no one wanted to pay attention, as if the alarms were not for them or that they did not have to listen to it. However, some students may not have heard the alarms because it is noisy after school. The staff was helping to evacuate the kids. It took less than five minutes to get everyone out. Even though there was no fire, this was a true emergency.”