HomeCampusFire alarms tampered with inside CHS boys’ restroom cause of recent unexplained fire evacuations

Fire alarms tampered with inside CHS boys’ restroom cause of recent unexplained fire evacuations

Published Nov. 12, 2021

BY RYAN JALILI

Students and faculty at Carmel High School have begun to notice an increase in fire evacuations, with five occurring within the first quarter of the school year alone, the cause discovered through evidence of tampering and destruction of the school’s fire alarm system within the boys’ restroom. 

School administrators initially believed that the first five evacuations were caused by a system malfunction, but following the fifth evacuation Oct. 8, CUSD’s Maintenance, Operation and Transportation Department found evidence of tampering and attempted removal of a fire alarm in the boys’ restroom.

CHS students evacuating to the football field for the fifth time this school year. (Photo by RYAN JALILI)

“We’ve determined some of the devices have been tampered with, which can cause the system to go into alarm,” explains Dan Paul, MOT director of facilities and transportation. “It appears someone is trying to remove the device. Each device (smoke detector or horn/strobe notifier) has an individual address on the system that allows us to pinpoint the location of any problems with the system or a detector that has gone into alarm. We’ve found devices damaged after the fire alarm has activated.”

At this time, CHS administration has not found any individuals responsible for the vandalism.

“We are still working on the investigations,” CHS assistant principal Debbi Puente says. “We are reviewing footage, but we don’t have any conclusions on who is at fault at this point.”

CHS administration also believes that this recent act of tampering can be attributed to the viral “devious lick” TikTok trend, in which students record themselves either trashing or destroying school property, typically in the school’s restroom. 

“They have vandalized the boys’ bathrooms several times and the fire alarm system, which is a felony,” principal’s secretary Lisa Brazil says. “At this point, we think it’s kids trying to dismantle the fire alarm system.”

The student body has had differing reactions to the evacuations, with some who argue they hinder learning. 

“These fire evacuations are disruptive to class when I’m trying to work,” sophomore Hana Knoblich says. “And with the blaring noise playing over and over again, it’s hard to refocus after going to the football field for 10 minutes in the middle of class.” 

CHS students head back to class after yet another evacuation. (Photo by AINSLEY HENDERSON)

On the other hand, many students view interruptions as brief moments in which they can be distracted from the stress of classwork. 

“Personally, I like the fire evacuations,” junior Aiden Tarantino says, “especially since we get to skip some part of class every once in a while to just take a break and sit on the football field.”

Despite varied responses from students, CHS teachers express frustration surrounding the frequent interruptions during class. 

“They are very loud, they are an annoyance and a disruption in my class,” AP history teacher Brent Silva says. “I would prefer that these evacuations did not happen.”

Faculty and staff are rightfully concerned over these repeated fire drills, but some even question the need for fire alarms in the first place.

“I think we should reevaluate fire alarms in general,” math teacher Kurt Grahl observes. “Fires aren’t the threat they were in the ‘50s. I think overall we should prepare for things that really impact our school, and I’m not sure a sweeping fire, at this point, is one.”

For now, CHS administration is undergoing an active investigation as to who is tampering with the restroom’s alarms.

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