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Fire alarm set off maliciously during Higher exam at Montrose Academy

A fire alarm was maliciously set off during a Higher exam.
A fire alarm was maliciously set off during a Higher exam.

Fire services have issued a warning after a fire alarm was activated maliciously during a Higher modern studies exam.

The incident happened at 12.11pm last Thursday at Montrose Academy in Angus and the school was forced to evacuate.

On arrival fire crews discovered there was no fire and therefore investigated the cause of the activation – quickly discovering it was set off maliciously.

An Angus Council spokeswoman said school staff have “taken appropriate action”.

Montrose Academy, Angus.
Montrose Academy, Angus.

The incident prompted the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service to issue a warning to parents in Angus yesterday.

Gary Wood, watch commander at Community Action Team Angus, says there has been a “sharp increase” in malicious alarm activations and fire raising within local school premises.

He said: “We are taking this opportunity to make all parents and carers aware of the issues and the subsequent impact that these actions can have on both the school, its pupils, and the wider community.

“Having experienced similar escalations and disruption in other Tayside schools we feel it is important that you are made aware of these issues at the earliest opportunity in order that they can be addressed where appropriate.”

He asked parents and carers to speak with young people to make them aware of the consequences, including disruption to the school’s working day impacting on both staff and pupils.

The influence of social media

Gary slammed an increase of social media ‘challenges’, particularly on TikTok, which encourage viewers to complete actions which activate fire alarms within school premises.

Addressing parents and carers, he said: “We would ask that you reinforce the message that participating in these challenges is not acceptable.

“There is a high risk that these challenges could directly or indirectly result in injury and/or serious harm to those individuals participating in them.

“These potentially life changing consequences may not be fully understood by your dependant(s), and we would ask that you emphasise this point as part of your discussions.”

He also says that sending fire crews to such malicious activations puts “unnecessary strain on resources” and directly affects their ability to respond quickly to other incidences.

Stephen Wood, Scottish Fire and Rescue's local senior officer for Tayside.
Stephen Wood, Scottish Fire and Rescue’s local senior officer for Tayside.

Stephen Wood, SFRS’s Local Senior Officer for Tayside, said: “We want to get the message out to parents and pupils that Unwanted Fire Alarm Signals (UFAS) have an impact on our emergency responders.

“They lead to our crews being called out unnecessarily. This disrupts our training and community safety work, as well as our availability for real emergencies.

“In terms of false alarms at school premises, we continue to work closely with the local authority, police and other partners to raise awareness of the issue.”

Further Action

In cases where investigations by school staff provide Police Scotland and the Youth Justice Assessor with evidence of serious or repeat offending there are various options at their disposal.

When dealing with youth offending all crimes are subject to the following review by a Youth Justice Assessor (as above).

If parents and carers have any further questions, they should contact their local SFRS Community Action Team.

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