Students head back to their classes from the Palo Alto High School football field in mid-May after being notified by administration about a false alarm. Photo: Emma van der Veen.
The Palo Alto High School fire alarm was set off twice in a row, one day during 1st period last week, each time prompting students to exit their classes and walk towards the football field.
Right when students were notified by Assistant Principal Adam Paulson that it was a false alarm and to head back to their classes, the alarm went off again, causing more confusion and exasperation.
According to Assistant Principal Jerry Berkson, the fire alarm was set off because the construction workers were testing it early morning.
But that was not the only day with fire alarm problems. It feels like Paly suffered at least a dozen or so in recent weeks.
“The fire alarm goes off like every day, and this was the second time that it went off in the middle of a chemistry unit test,” sophomore Arian Chandra said. “It’s so irritating when you’re in the middle of your thought process and the fire alarm disrupts it, not to mention, I felt really pressed for time when the test was not to be rescheduled or reduced.”
Due to the numerous fire alarms triggered this year at Paly, it has gotten to the point where most students consider the alarms as a “boy cries wolf” situation.
“I think of the fire alarm as a “drag” especially since I know that most of them don’t involve a fire,” sophomore Adam Pelavin said. “I actually thought most of them were practice drills.”
According to Berkson, the fire alarm has been set off by various factors.
“We’ve had students setting off the heat sensors with ‘lighters’, construction workers testing out the alarms in the new building [gym], and spiders crawling past certain sensors,” Berkson said. “With construction of the new gym ending, fire alarms set off by the construction are expected to stop.”
Additionally, false alarms are costly for the fire department. When any fire alarm at Paly is triggered, the department is immediately notified and must investigate the incident, according to Berkson.
“I usually go check out the buildings where the alarms went off and see if there really is a fire,” Berkson said. “Then I have to call the fire department and tell them about the false alarm situation.”