Some might be surprised to learn that a school board would need to be asked to install fire sprinklers. But because they have been subject to different building codes than business and residential buildings, many older schools do not have fire sprinklers or alarms. Additionally, while a 2002 law mandated that all new school buildings and any school facilities undergoing significant repair or renovation would be required to install sprinklers, the law included one exemption. If a school project is paid for entirely through local funds, the installation of fire sprinklers and alarm systems is not mandatory.
You can read the full article in the March 7th issue of the Mountain View Voice.
On September 13, 2012, a fire occurred at the Beechwood School in Menlo Park, California. This is the second school fire that has occurred in the Belle Haven neighborhood of Menlo Park in just over a year (the previous being at Belle Haven Elementary School in early August of 2011.)
While the Beechwood School met all state code standards for fire safety, unfortunately its alarm system was not connected to the Menlo Park Fire Department. What most people don't know is that state law does not require monitored fire alarms in schools that were built prior to 2008.
The lack of required connectivity of school fire alarms to the fire district was the subject of one of the San Mateo County Grand Jury reports from 2008 - San Mateo County Public School Fire Alarm Systems. If Beechwood was connected to the fire district, the fire department would have known about the fire immediately, and could have responded in minutes.
You can read more about the monitored fire alarm issue and how it relates to the Beechwood School and some of our other local schools in the September 26, 2012 issue of the Menlo Park Almanac.