(Don’t) Sound the Alarm

Niche rewards Stevenson for lack of false fire alarms.

Kelly Liu

Since March 2020, there have been no false fire alarms at Stevenson, a great deal of improvement from previous years. Stevenson’s efforts have been recognized by Niche, a site that ranks high schools and colleges across the country in various categories. Due to Stevenson’s new fire alarm system, Niche awarded the school an A+ in the Fire Safety category.

Stevenson has notoriously held a Fire Safety average of C+ in previous years, bringing down its overall Niche GPA to an A-. However, the recent system checks and updates performed by some dedicated faculty members has caused Niche to boost this grade. More importantly, fire risks at Stevenson no longer present a great threat to the vast majority of students and staff, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’ve been working really hard since last December to fix and monitor the faulty fire alarm system, so the new ‘A+’ Niche grade really just reassured us that our new system is working,” said Kurt Martin, assistant to the assistant principal and Volunteer Stevenson Fire Chief. “We even put up a banner in the ILC for everyone to see and celebrate!”

Many staff members like Martin have been routinely updating and testing Stevenson’s fire alarms to ensure that they are functioning properly. Although most people are home due to the pandemic, several recognize that fire safety is still a priority for high schools. Alexandra Flores, a Niche high school rater, shares this sentiment.

“Most people are getting sidetracked by COVID-19, but Stevenson has managed to focus on overall campus safety,” Flores said. “We decided to award Stevenson an A+ in Fire Safety for its unfaltering dedication and impressive reduction in false fire alarms.”

While having dysfunctional fire alarms presents a safety hazard, it also obstructs everyday learning. Faulty alarms halt all classes for at least 15 minutes, which has threatened the academic vitality of Stevenson students. Instead of being present in class and learning the material, false alarms oftentimes force students and staff to unnecessarily stand outside in cold or rainy weather.

“Last fall, a false alarm went off in the West building so everyone evacuated, but of course it started pouring outside and none of us had umbrellas,” Jacob Li ’21 said. “I’ve never seen so many people squished together under a tree before.”

Besides shielding students and staff from unpleasant weather, the recent efforts to repair these faulty fire alarms have also helped students focus on their academic duties. Due to E-Learning, students face countless distractions at home, so taking away the false alarms gives students more time to learn. 

“Most of us are at home where there are already a ton of distractions, so not having those annoying fire alarms go off is really helpful,” Li said. “To be honest, I wish Stevenson bought those personalized M&Ms to celebrate, but a banner and an A+ Niche grade are pretty cool too.”

While students celebrate the new fire alarms at home, the Stevenson staff members on campus are still working hard at maintaining them. The staff hopes to hang onto their newly coveted A+ Fire Safety grade from Niche and to continue making Stevenson faulty fire alarm free.

“We are ecstatic about our current progress and the future,” Martin said. “Our best hope is that we can continue our streak of days without false alarms, even when the pandemic is no longer a threat and all students and staff return to campus.”