On Wednesday 8 May, a false fire alarm was set off at MGCI at around 1 PM. Students were ushered onto the field and within 10 minutes the first of three firetrucks arrived at the school. In addition to the disruption of regular classes, a particular repercussion of this false alarm was an interruption of one of several Advanced Placement exams being administered this week.

Jerry Wu, a grade 11 student writing AP Chinese Language and Culture at the time, said: “We were very lucky; we were just about to start the exam when the alarm went off. Exams are already stressful and this doesn’t have a positive effect on the mindset.”

Students returned to class within a quarter of an hour following the false alarm. Responding to whether the alarm was a drill, vice-principal Sharp said that “the alarm in the boys’ change room was pulled and we would never plan an intentional fire drill during exam time.”

Mr. Sharp could not disclose information about whether any student or students have been found responsible for setting off the alarm, but he did say the student(s) will be charged whatever fine the school receives from the fire department, and may also be suspended. The fine will total $1500, or $500 for each truck sent. Sharp commented: “students don’t really understand the serious nature of a fire alarm. The reality is that the trucks that are sent here cannot go anywhere else. Someone could die because firefighters are too busy taking a false call. There are significant consequences.” 

With the continuing administration of AP exams over the next two weeks, administration has assured that there will be no pre-planned fire drills or lockdowns. If an actual emergency should occur, the exam proctors have a detailed protocol to follow to ensure that scores are not jeopardized.

Students and staff wait in the back field following the evacuation. Photo: Kasra Koushan.