Student pulls fire alarm, disrupts finals

Jeanette Wong and Emily Hwang

Students gather on the field after a student pulled the fire alarm following brunch. Photo by Emily Hwang.
A Palo Alto High School student pulled the fire alarm at the end of brunch today, causing a delayed start for 4th Period final exams, according to Assistant Principal Jerry Berkson.

The students were dismissed from the football field about 10 minutes after the alarm was pulled. In an email to the Paly staff, parents and students, Principal Kim Diorio announced that the school day would be extended 15 minutes to give students the allotted two hour time slot for their final exams.

According to Berkson, the alarm originated in the Student Center. The fire alarm control panel can detect where the alarm was triggered and if smoke or a manual trigger set off the alarm. Additionally, the Palo Alto Fire Department is automatically notified when the fire alarm goes off.

“As soon as I saw that it was pulled, I called them [PAFD] to say that it was a non-emergency,” Berkson said. “But they still have to reset everything. We can’t just reset it.”

The consequences of pulling a fire alarm in the absence of a fire can be serious. If caught, there may be a suspension from the school or a citation by the police, Berkson said. According to Berkson, this incident misdirected his time and energy away from managing end-of-year activities such as graduation.

Freshman Preston Sterling says he thinks that the person who pulled the alarm did not want to take his or her 4th Period final exam.

“[I think] the purpose [of pulling the alarm] was to skip the final, but it kind of backfired,” Sterling said.