Consecutive fire alarms allegedly caused by smoking or vaping

By Nolan DeGarlais, News Editor

On Thursday, Jan. 11 during fifth period at approximately 12:30 in the afternoon, the fire alarm was triggered for the second time in the past two days. The day before, a fire alarm also went off during first period at 7:50 in the morning. Both fire alarms were triggered by smoke detectors at different locations inside the building.

Assistant Principal Peter Schurke says administration believes the smoke detectors setting off the fire alarms may have been caused by students either smoking or vaping near smoke detectors in separate locations within the school. Not wanting to encourage further incidents, Schurke declined to identify the locations of the smoke detectors which set off the fire alarm.

“While there is always the possibility it is a malfunction or maintenance issue with the detectors, having a malfunction two days in a row is highly unlikely,” Schurke said. “Both incidents occurred while students were in the building, suggesting that the situation may have had to do with students.”

While the possibility of a malfunction in the smoke detectors has not been ruled out and will continue to be investigated, information received by the administration has pointed mostly towards the possibility of smoking or vaping near the detector. The administration plans to hold a meeting to discuss how to proceed with the investigation and gather more information.

Maintenance workers will investigate possible causes of a malfunction in the two smoke detectors to ensure it was not conveniently timed smoke detector malfunctions which caused both fire alarms. During their brief investigation, Mountlake Terrace Fire Department firefighters found no noticeable issues with the smoke detectors; however, the administration desires further verification from another investigation conducted by maintenance personnel.

Even if the investigations do confirm the administration’s suspicions of smoking or vaping triggering the fire alarms, the identities of those responsible remain unknown. While it is possible the smoking or vaping set off the fire alarms unintentionally, the fact that two different smoke detectors were triggered in two days suggests it may have been intentional. Additionally, smoke detectors are generally not triggered by smoking or vaping unless smoke is directed towards the smoke detectors.