PHS Fire Alarms
Starting in early February, Petaluma High School was overwhelmed with recurrent fire alarms that seemed to go off at the same time every morning. The inconvenience of the loud, blaring alarms disrupted many teachers' schedules and caused time to be lost from classroom activities. Science classes lost time for working on labs, math classes lost time on tests and many other classes lost basic lecture time.
“The second time the fire alarm went off in the same window of time, we realized it was the beginning of a problem,” said Erin Dinday, assistant principal at Petaluma High. When the PHS staff began to investigate the cause of the alarms, according to science teacher Victor Brazil, some teachers first believed the culprit to be a student. They formed the idea that a student was pulling the alarm at the same time every class, and this became a common rumor among students as well.
After further investigation, they discovered that the alarms were going off due to a broken sensor in an art classroom. “When it started going off on B-Days, we recognized the student population has changed, the teacher has been consistent; it has got to be something related to the alarm itself,” said Dinday.
Principal Justin Mori and other office staff were eventually able to estimate the time of the alarm every A-day, and complete the necessary safety checks to clear the alarm faster each day while maintenance was figuring out the cause.
“When the sensor was broken, it did disrupt a lot of classes; it was every single day. It interfered with an AP test I was giving that was timed, so I had to extend everything,” said Brazil. He went on to say that at first, he thought it was a student who was triggering the alarm. “You know, teenagers,” said Brazil. Since the fixing of the alarm, teachers have been able to get their classes back onto a regular schedule and make up for any lost time.