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November 25, 2019 - Update on Fire Alarm System

Dear George Washington Middle School Parents and Guardians,

We are pleased to be able to provide an update regarding the fire alarm system at George Washington Middle School.

The fire alarm system at George Washington Middle School is now fully functional again following repairs carried out on Saturday. A full test of the system was carried out this afternoon at 1:45 p.m. to confirm that the system is now working as intended. Students were asked not to evacuate during the test as the intention was to check the system and not to conduct a full fire drill.

The Alexandria City Fire Marshal was onsite during the test of the fire alarm system and verified that it complies with code requirements. A fire and life safety consultant was also on site on Saturday to conduct an independent assessment of the system’s compliance with code requirements.

Although our fire alarm system meets state fire code compliance standards, we want to take greater steps to upgrade and/or replace the fire alarm system. We will be making upgrades to the fire alarm system a priority in upcoming budgets.

Saturday’s independent assessment of the system checked that the various parts of the system were reading each other as they should be. The assessment included fire panel connectivity and communications, audible and visual alarms, pull stations, water flow and sprinkler valves. The fire and life safety consultant also assessed the coverage of smoke detectors to ensure they are in line with the National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code.

The contractors found that two of the fire panels were not communicating with each other between the different sides of the building. These were repaired and are now working properly again. Repairs were also made to ensure that all pull stations were operable and were sounding. Five strobe lights were replaced.

Although the Fire Marshal and the fire and life safety consultant both found that the smoke detectors, fire alarm system and sprinklers installed in George Washington Middle School meet the code requirement, ACPS will plan to install additional detectors once permits are received from the city.

We understand that while these repairs resolve the immediate issues, ACPS is committed to continuing our work on long-term upgrades to George Washington. Both the Fire Marshal and the fire and life safety consultant agree that the fire alarm system and related infrastructure for George Washington Middle School is in need of modernizing. We will keep you informed about these next steps as soon as we have information to share.

In the meantime, we thank you for your patience while this matter was resolved.


Anita Cordova
Acting Director, Educational Facilities