The False Fire Drill Epidemic

The False Fire Drill Epidemic

We’ve all been there. Middle of second period, in the midst of a math test, when the flashing of the fire alarm appears out of the corner of your eye. The sigh from the teacher cuts through the noise of the alarm as the students rise from their desk and shuffle slowly out the door, yet another unplanned fire drill throwing a wrench into the flow of a normal school day. 

These interruptions have been becoming all too common this year, with the bulk of our fire drills being caused by students vaping in the bathrooms. It is certain that no one is happy about these constant interruptions. 

When asked about the issue of vaping, Ludlowe teacher Mrs. Sousa says, “I’m not hearing about it more, I’m experiencing it more through disruption.” The increased level of disruption is a first for the school, and is strange considering the nationwide drop in e-cigarette use among high schoolers within the last year, with the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) reporting that use has gone down from 14% of students to 10% from 2022-2023. 

With many teachers and other staff members frustrated with the classroom disruptions these drills have been causing, Fairfield Ludlowe High School (FLHS) is working on methods to try and minimize future ones. 

In an interview with Dr. Hatzis, he revealed that “We have actually been playing with the idea of charging students who were the perpetrators of causing the alarm going off for the service of the fire department coming out, and you know if we continue to see this trend we will move forward in that direction.”

It is suspected that a change with the vaping devices themselves could be to blame for these drills. The newer cartridges could be emitting more smoke than in years past, which would explain the heightened number of sensors that have been set off in the last year. 

While there are already punishments in place, which Mr. McCloskey declined to give further detail on, stopping bathroom drug use completely is an impossible goal. However, there is some hope that change could be coming. 

FLHS just got approval for a bathroom remodeling project, which is going to take place over the summer of 2024, according to Dr. Hatzis. “When things are really new people tend to respect them more,” he said. This brings the possibility that due to the increased quality of the restroom facilities, students will be deterred from misusing the bathrooms.

 This could be a breath of fresh air for a lot of students, both literally and figuratively. A decrease in vaping could mean an increase in student comfortability while using the restrooms. Mrs. Sousa mentioned that “What I do hear that makes me actually upset is that kids are afraid to go into the bathroom, and I’ve heard that probably for the past five years, that there are a lot of kids who feel uncomfortable going into the bathroom just to use the bathroom because they don’t know what they are going to encounter when they go in there.”  

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