The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

False fire alarms interrupt classes, raise safety concerns

False+fire+alarms+are+causing+interruptions+and+raising+concerns+at+LAHS.
Oscar Johnson
False fire alarms are causing interruptions and raising concerns at LAHS.

Los Altos High School experienced a false fire alarm last Friday, February 2, at the start of sixth period. This is the most recent occurrence in what has become a consistent trend of false alarms at LAHS in the past few years. The false alarms have been caused by the construction on campus and other technical issues.

“Sometimes it’s construction, but the alarms go off on wild things,” Assistant Principal Derek Miyahara said. “One of them went off because there was condensation in a bathroom.”

These interruptions to classes have an impact on both students and staff.

“It’s really disruptive, especially since it seems like these false alarms with the construction happen back-to-back,” Principal Tracey Runeare said.

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The false alarms also impact the work that students can finish in class, especially when classes actually evacuate to the football field instead of remaining in their classrooms.

“It takes away from class time that I could be using to get work done,” sophomore Vasilisa Firsova said. “I don’t get a lot of time for work due to athletics.”

Fire alarms are a safety precaution in the case of a real fire, but the continuing false alarms have caused much of the LAHS community to hesitate, even when the alarms do go off. School policy instructs teachers to remain in class during an alarm and wait for further notice before evacuating, creating a potential hazard in the case of a real emergency.

“The biggest issue is that we don’t know if it’s real,” French teacher Shannon Porfilio said. “The time it takes for us to find out could be important.”

The main priority for administrators is to keep students and staff safe in all situations. The facilities staff is sent to determine if smoke is present and LAHS is informed via intercom within minutes.

“We’re trying to keep everybody safe and figure out if there’s a real problem or not,” Administrative Assistant Mary Donahue said. “I don’t want people interrupting class and evacuating when they don’t need to, but also, they need to get out.”

Though the problem persists, there have been fewer false alarms in recent months, as the administration works on resolving the issue.

“The administration is doing everything we can do to try and prevent these things from happening,” Donahue said.

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