Alarming problem plaguing Hastings High School

Hastings High School fire alarm
A Jan. 17, 2017 photo shows a fire alarm affixed to the wall of Hastings High School.

HASTINGS, Mich. (WOOD) — The halls of Hastings High were quiet Tuesday because inclement weather forced to the school to close. But that quiet could be shattered by the shrill sound of the fire alarm any minute – and not on purpose.

“This past summer, it may have went off three or four times in a three week period, then nothing for three months,” recounted Dale Krueger, director of maintenance and grounds for Hastings Schools.

On the alarms panel, sticky notes remind staff of what and what not to do when the alert is traced back to the part of the system that continues to set it off: silence the alarm, but don’t reset it in case of an actual emergency.

Hastings High School
A Jan. 17, 2017 photo shows an empty staircase at Hastings High School.

The errant alarms have sounded enough that staff can look at the control panel and find out where the problem is in the system.
A quick check of the area usually eliminates the need to evacuate the school.

“We just don’t take a chance. We always investigate it right away,” added Krueger.

“It works when it needs to work. We’ve tested that through the drills that we do. We’re in compliance with our drills,” said Hastings Superintendent Carrie Duits.

“We feel confident with having students in the building, but it is annoying,” she added.

Hastings High School
A Jan. 17, 2017 photo shows the alarm system for Hastings High School.

While the control panel is updated, much of the well-worn alarm system dates back to 1969. But a fix is on the way.

Approved by voters in 2015, a $45 million bond is paying for building and security upgrades throughout the district. A new alarm system for the school was always on the list, and has since moved up the list of priorities.

“We’re really grateful for our community passing the bond so we can get after it because it’s fairly complex to change out an alarm system,” said Duits.

The new system should be in place by the start of the next school year.