Loud fire alarms leave staff and students screaming even louder

Ethan Andres, Editor

In the past few weeks, the fire alarms at Belvidere High School have been going off at unusually high rates.

Not one of these times has the cause been a legitimate fire that warrants an evacuation. Because of this, BHS has changed their policy on when the fire alarms go off.

From this point forward, if an alarm goes off, everyone is to standby where they are for three minutes until being further instructed. This is to prevent the entire school from evacuating if the cause is one that will not put anyone in danger.

While this new system is controversial, I personally think it is a good idea overall for Belvidere High School. It saves time for staff and students, it can be much safer for everyone, and it prevents inconvenience.

First and foremost, if a class is going on, fire alarm evacuations obviously take time away from the class.  This subtracts time for teachers to teach, students to learn, and classwork to get done. This can get to be especially frustrating for students if it is during a class that they are struggling with and need all the time they can get. It can be frustrating for staff when the fire drills alter their lesson plans for the class period and don’t get to everything they planned on. With evacuations no longer required, this helps us conserve classroom time.

Secondly, it can be much safer for students and staff to stay in a classroom during certain times. If safety threats are going around, it’s possible that activated fire alarms can be caused by people involved with the threats in order to get everyone to evacuate and put them in a vulnerable position. Earlier this school year, there were safety threats across town at Belvidere North High School at the same time our fire alarm went off. This was a very questionable time. However, it luckily turned out to be a coincidence that the alarm went off, so nobody from BHS was harmed in the process. Now, with people not always having to evacuate, we can keep students and staff as safe a possible given a situation.

“I understand the reasoning for it because there has been instances where there are threats outside the building and people try to pull fire alarms to put them in harm’s way. And the three minute hesitation allows administrators to decide if it’s right to evacuate,” said careers teacher Mr. Darin Wecker.

Third of all, it’s simply inconvenient in some situations to have to evacuate at random times. A few weeks ago, it happened during 5C lunch. It cut into any students’ and staff’s lunch that had it during that time. Also, with it getting colder outside as winter approaches, it’s not ideal to have to be outside in the cold weather, especially if the alarm goes off when there isn’t an actual fire. The decision for us to wait 3 minutes to see if we need to evacuate can prevent this inconvenience.

“While it’s inconvenient, the need to change our drills to match the world we line in is something we have to take seriously. Bad people are abusing the current systems we have in place. It’s up to us to adapt and be better,” said English teacher Mr. John Deery.

On the flip side, it can be unsafe in the wrong situation. If there is a legitimate fire that can harm people, obviously that would warrant an immediate evacuation. But if people don’t know there is a fire and wait, that can put them in harm’s way. However, with how rare legitimate school fires are around here, it’s a fair chance to take. And if it actually happens, word can travel fast to evacuate.

For the most part, the reasons for the fire alarms going off recently are either because it detects a student vaping or smoking on campus or because the fire alarms is simply accidentally tripped. These both obviously are not legitimate fires that can harm anyone or anything. Therefore, this new policy can save time, keep us safe, and be more convenient.