Faulty Equipment Triggers Fire Alarms

On March 10, students hurried out of classrooms to the sound of blaring fire alarms on two separate occasions. Although a fire drill had been planned for the same day, both fire alarms were accidental, caused by faulty equipment.

Students scramble to assemble themselves after a false alarm. The defective equipment that resulted in multiple accidental alarms has now been replaced. Photo by Elvin Wong.

The fire drills were the result of an unreliable float switch located in the the A building. Float switches, which are integral to the fire sprinkler system, monitor the amount of water in buildings. When triggered, the float switch indicates that water is rushing into classrooms and triggers the alarm system accordingly. In this particular incident, however, the float switch was defective and caused unnecessary alarm.

“It’s an old, faulty switch,” facilities manager Chris Kenney said. “It kept going off, then we would reset it and it kept going.”

MVHS was first alerted of this problem at 8:15 p.m. on March 9, at which time the float switch tripped an alarm. School officials responded by canceling the planned fire drill for the next day, but three unintentional alarms were triggered nonetheless.

The faulty switch was replaced with a newer model on March 11, yet more work remains in order to prevent another series of unintentional alarms.

“It’s probably time to go out throughout the school and look at all the old float switches and have them all replaced,” Kenney said. “That’s probably something I’ll do in the summer.”

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