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NNSL photo

Norm Lalonde, maintenance supervisor for YK Catholic Schools, stands beside a master panel which can inform firemen exactly where a fire alarm has been triggered in St. Joe's school.

Bells and whistles

Daniel T'seleie
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (May 04/05) - Alarm bells will no longer sound at Ecole St. Joseph school if a fire breaks out.

"It's no longer a bell, it's a tone," said assistant principal Gillian Dawe-Taylor.

A new, computerized fire alarm was installed over spring break and was introduced to the students in a fire drill Monday morning. The alarm "tone" sounds very similar to the sound you hear when watching television in the middle of the night once the station has finished broadcasting Dawe-Taylor said.

If you think this is a poor replacement for the old fashioned alarm bell you are mistaken.

Many children were seen plugging their ears during the five-minute drill.

"The whole neighbourhood can probably hear it," Dawe-Taylor said of the alarm which is also broadcast to the outside of the building.

The new, "fully addressable" alarm system is, "all part of new codes," said Norm Lalonde, maintenance supervisor for Yellowknife Catholic Schools.

"The system we had was 28 years old," Lalonde said, and further described it as, "very old, archaic."

When the new alarm system is set-off a computer immediately informs the fire department which smoke alarm or alarm-pull-station is triggered in the building.

Flashing lights located at strategic points throughout the school accompany the alarm tone so the hearing impaired will also be alerted.

Ecole St. Joseph School was the last among the Yellowknife Catholic Schools to be outfitted with "fully addressable" alarm Lalonde said.

Yellowknife School District No. 1 still uses the bell system in all their schools say maintenance personnel. Officials specifically in charge of fire alarm maintenance for Yellowknife School District No. 1 were not available for comment.