HAVERHILL — School officials say fire alarms at Haverhill High School have gone off three times since last week and that in one instance, it was caused by a student pulling the alarm and in another an alarm was triggered by students vaping in a restroom.
School Committeewoman Maura Ryan-Ciardiello said she asked Principal Jason Meland to explain what was happening at the high school and that she placed the item on the School Committee’s agenda for discussion.
Ryan-Ciardiello said Meland told her that a fire alarm was pulled Dec. 1 and the student responsible was immediately identified, his family was notified, consequences were assigned, and the case was referred to a school resource officer, as outlined in the student handbook.
Meland said the student handbook calls for a suspension of an unspecified length and referral to the school resource officer, but he would not specify what that suspension was, citing concerns about student confidentially.
He said that on Monday, a fire alarm was triggered by a detector in a restroom, but firefighters were unable to identify any source of heat or smoke and that the investigation continues.
Meland also said that on Tuesday, a fire alarm was triggered by a detector in a restroom and firefighters identified the source as vape smoke. He said the students responsible were identified, their families were notified, and consequences were assigned as outlined in the student handbook.
“We will continue to investigate our outstanding questions about these incidents,” the principal said.
Fire Chief Robert O’Brien said there is never a question of response when it comes to human life and that in the case of a master box alarm — where a signal is sent directly to the Haverhill Fire Department — the response involves three pumper trucks, a ladder truck, a rescue truck and Car 2.
“We do the same thing for a house if you smell smoke,” he said.
In the case of an alarm being triggered by vaping, O’Brien said it is up to the school administration to deal with those involved.
“And in the case of a student pulling an alarm, it has more to do with school security and police in terms of malicious behavior,” he said. “We’re there to make sure occupants are safe and in certain circumstances, we will work with police.”
He said a master box is typically hard-wired to provide the quickest response, while home notifications are typically via a 911 call or through an alarm monitoring company that would contact the department.