When the devastating fire broke out just before dawn at Trace Elementary school, a local official was immediately notified … by email. To put it simply, the fire broke out, and an email was sent to the official, who was still lying in bed, fast asleep. Presumably, the official would only have found out after he woke up, had his first cup of coffee, showered, and turned on his computer, or whatever his daily schedule might be.

There was no phone call, either to him or to the school district’s Central Station, which monitors such commonplace alerts such as burglar and fire alarms when officials are off work or asleep.

The district says that officials are no longer notified by phone because there were too many false alarms in the past. In fact, the school district makes use of a legal loophole that exempts it from installing proper fire alarms and smoke detectors in classrooms, when they are built or renovated using local funding. A report in today’s Merc concludes that the San Jose Unified School District is exceptional among school districts in claiming these exemptions.

The district’s a new superintendent, Vincent Matthews, has stated that he plans to launch a thorough investigation into the failings of the fire-protection system. One possible measure that Matthews has already suggested is a review of its contract with Cosco Fire Protection and its subcontractor, California Security Alarms, the companies that provides fire alarms to the school district.
Read More at The Mercury News.