False Fire Alarms Causing Panic for Students at Stoneman Douglas
Broward County school officials are trying to resolve the issues with the fire alarm systems to prevent further trauma for faculty and students.
Broward Schools are working to fix the issues with the false fire alarms that have been going off within the last month at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
The alarms have caused students to relive the trauma of the school shooting that killed 17 people, reports the Sun Sentential.
“My daughter has struggled a lot on the days when the alarms go off,” said the parent of Heather Chapman, who was at Stoneman Douglas the day of the shooting. “For her, it’s the sounds as well as the evacuations.”
Since school started at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Aug. 15, there have been two fire drills, five false alarms and one code red drill. Officials say three of the alarms were pulled by students, reports U.S. News.
Several of the alarms have been blamed on faulty wiring, including the most recent from Sept. 12. Officials confirmed it was the result of a faulty switch on a pull station.
“The switch has been repaired and the fire alarm system is again functioning properly,” a statement from the school district read.
The school has taken other measures to rectify the situation, like increased fire officials on school grounds to keep an eye on the alarms.
“The watch ensures an appropriate fire official is positioned at the school’s main fire panel, the statement said. “In the event the alarm is activated, this individual will immediately silence the system and the remaining fire watch participants will investigate the cause.”
Broward County has also confirmed they will be upgrading their fire alarm systems. They had planned to upgrade the fire alarm systems before the school shooting, but now, extra features will be included in those plans.
The district will add a delay mechanism that will allow administrators to determine whether the fire alarm is real before going off schoolwide, a feature not found in Florida schools yet.
Mary Ann May, chief fire official says the feature will be tested at a few schools but may not end up working out. The system only gives an administrator 15 seconds to respond.
State and federal law require 10 fire drills per school year and just as many “code red” drills to prepare for a shooter on campus.
Since the shooting, the district has asked for less required fire drills at Stoneman Douglas.
Stoneman Douglas student Maddie Zeltwanger told reporters that when she hears the fire alarm she immediately begins to panic.
“I try and get up and hide but then I have to realize that it’s probably nothing like February 14,” Zeltwanger said. “Your heart starts racing and your palms go numb and you start to get the chills.”
Maddie’s mother Kim does not believe the school has done anything to make the school safe in the months following the shooting.
“There have been a lot of promises made to us and that’s very disheartening for us as parents and definitely disheartening to these kids that have to live through this every day,” she said.
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