Frequent fire evacuations raise concerns

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In light of the recent upsurge in fire evacuations, administrators on campus covered all fire alarms in the locker rooms to prevent further false pulls, and the San Gabriel Fire Department announced that any future intentional false pulls will result in a citation. Students and teachers also voiced their concerns regarding the inconveniences the evacuations have on their schedules. 

Within the past month, there have been six fire evacuations: Feb. 3 at 1:52 p.m., Feb. 5 at 8:50 a.m., Feb. 11 at 1:30 p.m., Feb 13 at 1:52 p.m., Feb. 25 at 11:12 a.m., and yesterday at 2:02 p.m. The evacuations were caused by both manual activations at pull stations and smoke sensor activations. Business and Activities Assistant Principal Diana Diaz-Ferguson said that in certain cases of manual pulls, there was no real fire.

“Our concern is that any time when we have something intentional happen, not only does it tie up our resources but it endangers students and it endangers staff,” Diaz-Ferguson said. “You could have somebody getting hurt as part of an evacuation. We have the San Gabriel Fire Department coming in while they might have to respond to another emergency; [false pulls] are compromising the safety of staff and students.” 

Among the teachers affected by the fire evacuations was English teacher Robert Huynh, who lost two periods of instructional time. 

“[Increased evacuations] will throw off how teachers teach and the rhythm [of] how one activity flows into the next,” Huynh said. “In a lot of my classes, they do very similar things, and [if a] period falls behind, I have to reteach that lesson the following day. When students come back, sometimes they’re distracted, and it’s harder to get them to focus.”

Since there was no official statement regarding the direct causes of the fire evacuations, students have questioned the school with its regulation and supervision on the matter. Junior David Thai said that if more fire alarms are pulled, he would be frustrated depending on the class time he loses.

“One of the fire alarms was pulled on a day and period in which a quiz was given,” Thai said. “As a consequence, the quiz on that day was voided, and my class and I were to expect a ‘different’ version of the quiz the next day. I was definitely annoyed and irritated.”

In addition to citations, the San Gabriel Fire Department also said that any intentional future pulls may result in legal conflict with the Police Department, and there will be “legal repercussions” if fatalities or injuries occur during those evacuations.

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