Editorial: False fire alarms



Students gather outside after a fire alarm was pulled on Dec. 19.

The Sagamore’s editorials are written by a board of writers and reviewed by volunteer staff. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of each individual staff member.

This school year, the fire alarm has been pulled at least six times. Three of these times, the high school was dealing with actual concerns such as construction issues, a chemical spread through the ventilation system and an overzealously used microwave. The other half were what appeared to be false alarms, one of which occurred during a rainy day with freezing temperatures.

The culprit(s) of the false alarms supposedly still remain unknown, and while he has not revealed any information about investigations, Mr. Meyer has been transparent about his disapproval. After the false fire drill that caused students to stand in freezing rain for several minutes, Mr. Meyer expressed his disappointment on the PA system, calling the incident “stupid” and “irresponsible.”

False fire alarms are more than just irresponsible; they have real consequences. They take away resources for real, urgent issues, which can lengthen response time for actual emergencies throughout the town. These alarms can also harm students with certain disabilities that can make it difficult to leave and come back in, or others who may be distressed by these unexpected and overwhelming events.

While many students don’t mind an occasional break from class, people are quickly becoming weary of the perpetual interruptions. Students and staff alike are frustrated about the alarms stealing their free block, forcing them to stand in the rain, retake a test at another date or squeeze in an extra lesson for next class. Groans of frustration and exclamations of “this again?” seem to follow every evacuation: a clear sign that no one wishes to have their school time constantly disrupted.

There’s been traffic in the elevators, and those who need them the most are the last to leave the building. We, and many others, are wondering what (if any) measures the administration is taking to prevent these false alarms. The question of security in general has been up in the air for a while; the administration announced that tey would be implementing specialized student ID cards, but never followed up.

Under Massachusetts General Law, intentionally ringing a false alarm warrants a fine somewhere between 100 and 500 dollars and potential jail time for up to a year. These repercussions, especially the jail time, feel a bit extreme. Pulling a fire alarm is dangerous, but it’s important to look at these incidents with empathy, and remember that high schoolers make mistakes.

It’s interesting to think about possible reasons as to why students would feel frustrated enough to pull an alarm to get out of class. Would students who pull the alarm rather stand out in the rain than go to class? What does that say about the morale and well-being of certain students at the high school?

The high school is rare in the fact that there are no security cameras on campus. However, these repeated incidents raise the question of the need for a campus surveillance system. Our school prides itself on “creating the culture we want,” so would security cameras threaten these cultural norms? The solution is not a clear one, which complicates the issue even more.

Solutions to this fire alarm pulling problem are hard to find. While cameras might solve this particular problem, in the end, they probably do more harm than good. Students at school should not feel like they’re being policed when they come to learn. We want students to feel comfortable in their classroom, but how do we go about it?