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Admin: Fire alarm not pulled by student (this time)

Published December 11, 2013

Left: Paly students enter the Viking Stadium football field after an alarm went off during fifth period. Right: Paly's alarm system map inaccurately displays that a smoke alarm went off in the 600s building when it actually was triggered in the Tower Building, as explained by Assistant Principal Jerry Berkson. Photos by Emma Chiu.

Left: Paly students enter the Viking Stadium football field after an alarm went off during fifth period. Right: Paly’s alarm system map inaccurately displays that a smoke alarm went off in the 600s building when it actually was triggered in the Tower Building, as explained by Assistant Principal Jerry Berkson. Photos by Emma Chiu.

A faulty Palo Alto High School fire alarm has been inspected by Palo Alto firefighters after it went off earlier today during fifth period in the Tower Building, according to Assistant Principal Jerry Berkson.

“There are two control panels on campus that give out a digital report,” Berkson said. “Both stated that a smoke detector in room 33 in the closet — yes, that detailed — set it off.”

Many students may have been led to believe that the alarm was triggered in the 600s building, also known as the Student Center, as that was what the lighted alarm map outside of the Main Gym indicated. Berkson says that this lighted sign, however, is inaccurate. This could have led to misunderstandings today or even in the past as well, as hundreds of students pass by this sign when they make their way on to the football field.

“Nobody pulled it [the fire alarm] as a prank or anything,” Dean of Students Craig Tuana said. “I don’t know if it was faulty wiring or what, but it was just faulty.”

Over the past few years, many false school evacuations have been prompted by students who have pulled the alarms as pranks, most notably in the spring of 2012 when students pulled multiple false alarms over the span of one week as a “senior prank.” Additionally, in at least one incident a smoke detector went off from sensing fumes in a chemistry lab. Today, however, the entire school population was sent to the football field because of what appears to be a glitch in the system.

According to Tuana, the fault in the detector should be fixed.

“The firefighters came and looked at it, so I expect it not to happen again,” Tuana said.


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