According to Mt. Juliet Middle School principal Leigh Raney, the fire alarm was triggered when two students were “horsing around” in the hallway at the top of the middle stairs on the top floor. One student lost his balance and fell into the fire pull station, which activated the alarm.
“This was not a planned fire drill, and the situation with both students has been addressed,” said Raney. “Emergency response and the alarm company are always notified by our admin staff prior to a planned drill. With this being a non-scheduled fire alarm from a pulled station – not activated from the main panel, and yes, they can see all of that – the new protocol is that MJPD will automatically dispatch cruisers to all entrances of the school, along with the fire department, to respond to the alarm. Many of our staff, students and some parents saw the MJPD cruisers pull up and were alarmed to see them pull long rifles out of their trunks and assume the “protective” stance at each MJMS entrance.”
Mt. Juliet police Capt. Tyler Chandler said the new protocol came about after a discussion on how the Mt. Juliet Police Department could do its job to ensure students are safe.
“In some school violence events in the past, a manual pull triggered a fire alarm was activated during the event,” said Chandler. “When students evacuate, they are not surrounded by the protection of the building.
“Therefore, we felt sending officers to unplanned fire alarm activation could help add extra safety to the students that evacuate. Also, it allows officers to be closer to the school in the event they are needed in a greater capacity, either to help the fire department or respond to anything more serious.”
Raney expressed her happiness with the police response, even though it turned out to be a false alarm.
“This is the new standard protocol, but only for unplanned or non-scheduled fire alarm pulls at a school,” she said. “The response was terrific, and I reiterated this to Capt. Chandler repeatedly yesterday. We are very happy to have such a response rate and to feel the security they provide in this day and time that they and the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office supply and reinforce with all of our Wilson County Schools.”