False alarm causes exasperation, leads to investigation

Lori Ackerman, Staff Writer

On Thursday, the fire alarm went off during fourth period. Students and staff were briefly evacuated. Almost as soon as the evacuation started, students and teachers were notified that they could go back into the building. Many expressed their frustration at the evacuation, which seemed to have happened for no apparent reason.

All of the signs pointed to an unauthorized fire alarm pull. This was confirmed by Assistant Principal Parker and Officer Burke, who are in the process of investigating who pulled the alarm and what consequences they might face.

“Any time that a pull station is used without authorization or reason, an investigation occurs, and when applicable, we are able to assess discipline to the student,” Parker said.

Although the culprit has not been identified, Maria Bellios, a sophomore and staff writer for The Griffin, says that she saw the incident. She was in Ms. Schaffmeyer’s room in the English wing of the third floor when someone pulled the alarm.

“I saw these kids by the stairwell…I saw one of them make a hand gesture and all of a sudden the alarm went off, and they all started laughing, and then one kid said ‘You pulled the alarm!’ and then they all ran,” Bellios said.

A false fire alarm is a misdemeanor in Maryland, carrying a prison sentence of five years or a fine of $5,000, according to the 2013 Maryland Criminal Law Code. Despite these consequences, some teachers are recognizing a worrying trend of false alarms at Dulaney. Mrs. Campbell, who teaches ninth and 12th grade English, noted that there was another false alarm after school on Wednesday, Jan. 11. 

“It was pulled and everybody was yelling in the hallways to get out…We heard over the radio that it was pulled in the Tech Wing,” she said.

False alarms can be a cause of confusion and frustration. Frequent false alarms can diminish the effectiveness of alarms during actual emergencies, leading to a lack of clarity, as well as inaction on the part of those who think it’s just another false alarm. The Dulaney administration is working to ensure that false alarms do not become commonplace and that they are properly investigated when they happen.