Frequent fire alarms attributed to various causes

Chris Bell, Opinions Editor


Firefighters use a ladder to ascend to the roof of the Schluntz Gymnasium following a fire alarm that was not a drill. PHOTO BY LINDSAY WISE
Firefighters use a ladder to ascend to the roof of the Schluntz Gymnasium following a fire alarm that was not a drill. PHOTO BY LINDSAY WISE

Since the start of the school year there have been a total five fire-related incidents, two of which were drills, and three of which were legitimate causes of concern for the fire department.

According to Assistant Headmaster Hal Mason, the fire department decides independently when they want to have a fire drill at the High School. He said two of the recent incidents were fire drills, so the fire department showed up unannounced as they typically do during a drill. According to Mason, the fire department is mandated to have four drills per school year, so there have only been two of these drills so far.

Mason said one of the other fire alarms that was not a drill occurred at the end of the day after school had already ended.

“It was about 3:50, so the only people that were here were people that were working after school,” Mason said.

According to Mason the cause of the alarm is still not completely confirmed.

“That one was triggered by the pull station in the lobby, but there was some error with the pull station,” Mason said. “We’re not sure if it was a short, or something went wrong because the fire department didn’t respond to it right away.”

Mason said that another of the three other fire alarms was due to a problem with an elevator.

“One was a condition where the main elevator here in this building, there was a gasket let go and the hydraulic fluid was let out and that caused a smoke condition which set off a smoke detector setting off the alarm,” Mason said.

Mason said this incident also occurred at the end of a school day. According to him a student in a wheelchair was in the elevator at the time.

“Just by chance at that time a line let go and 55 gallons of hydraulic fluid emptied out into the elevator pit and it also caused smoke because the fluid works as a type of grease,” Mason said.

Without the ‘grease’ or hydraulic fluid to lubricate the elevator’s descent, the metal of the shaft scraped against the elevator, which caused smoke to form and trigger the fire alarms, according to Mason.

Mason said the third and final incident, which occurred during the school day, was due to smoke that formed in the basement of the Schluntz gymnasium. In order to get rid of any smoke that possibly could have built up in the roof of the Schluntz Gymnasium the firemen went to the roof of the building.

“In a fire you want to get to the roof because if there is smoke- and there was definitely some smoke in the basement of Schluntz, we’re not sure why- but if there is a fire smoke is going to the roof and they need to create holes so the smoke gets out of the building in order to ventilate it,” Mason said.