Opinion: Stop pulling fire alarms

Students shiver on the sidewalk on S.W. 14th Ave. after the fire alarm went o Nov. 7. The alarm has gone off multiple times in a day on some days over the past few weeks.

An epidemic of false fire alarms in the past few weeks have sent students and staff out into the cold and rain, sometimes multiple times in a day.

Vice principal Alfredo Quintero told The Cardinal Times that the school only runs one fire drill monthly. That means that – apart from one alarm that was a microwave incident – the alarms in recent weeks have all been falsely pulled.

Whether this is meant as a joke or to get a few minutes off of class may never be known, but what is clear is that the perpetrators are putting lives at risk with their actions.

The number of alarms this month is likely to result in the “boy who cried wolf” effect, a phenomenon in which people become so conditioned to false alarms that they fail to respond during a real emergency.

Many students and teachers have already started to ignore or minimize the alarms. If one of the alarms turned out to be a real fire, some students might not evacuate.

They are not to blame – both students and teachers are annoyed with the loss of class time due to the evacuations.

Senior Nate Bradley was taking a quiz in his IB Mandarin 9-10 class when a series of three alarms in a row went off. The whole class had to stop the test and re-do it the next time the class met, meaning he had to study all over again.

“I was so annoyed. I studied an entire week for the test we took, but then I had to re-study for the next class and it completely threw off my schedule,” he says.

What students may not know is that each time it goes off, the alarm alerts the Portland Fire Department and it sends a fire truck to the school, which usually ends up being canceled en route, according to fire department data obtained by The Cardinal Times.

This means the fire department is wasting resources and may be less prepared to respond to real emergencies, thanks to the alarm pullers.

According to Quintero, the administration is considering solutions such as lids on the fire alarms, which would create more attention if opened. There is currently one of these lids on an alarm on the second floor.

The other idea is putting an ink dye on the alarm handle, making it easier to identify who pulled it.

To the alarm pullers: Don’t make the administration waste valuable time and money that should be spent educating us. Don’t force the fire department send a truck scrambling – lights blazing and sirens blaring – to our school every day.

And, most importantly, stop putting all of our lives in danger.