Vandals’ act sets off sprinkler system

Students and staff at Pinecrest Elementary School got a unexpected fire drill Tuesday morning.

The school’s fire alarms went off at about 11 a.m. when a sprinkler head in a utility room on the school’s second floor began to leak.

“When a sprinkler is sprinkling in a fire system, it sets off the fire alarm,” said Dirk Gleysteen, Central Kitsap School District’s director of operations.

When the fire alarm was activated, the children and staff were evacuated from the building until Central Kitsap Fire & Rescue could determine if there was any immediate danger.

The fire alarm was activated because vandals broke the flue outside the building that led to the hot water heater in the boiler room. The broken flue caused heat to build up which set off the sprinklers, said district spokesperson Laurie Cizon.

“We were very glad the system worked the way it’s supposed to so the kids were safe, just like they should be,” Cizon said.

The students and staff were readmitted to the school at about 11:45, said Gleysteen, who was at the school for about a half hour.

At about noon, 15 minutes after the students were readmitted into the building, there was a group of women standing between the school’s building and the parking lot entrance telling anyone driving through that there was a situation and they were not to let anyone into the building.

By that time, the students were back on their regular schedules.

The front office staff was instructed to refer media inquiries to Gleysteen.

He said the problem was not one that occurred very often and that the company that performs maintenance on the sprinkler system had been called to fix it. He didn’t recall the name of the company.

Gleysteen said that even though there wasn’t a fire and there was no immediate danger, it still was treated like an emergency.

“Any time the fire alarm goes off, it’s a serious thing until you determine why the fire alarm went off,” Gleysteen said. “As it turns out, it was not serious. No one was at risk and the facility was not at risk.” The only impact of the situation was that the sprinkler leaked into a classroom adjacent to the utility closet and got the classroom’s carpet wet.

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