301.519.9237 exdirector@nesaus.org

3.13.24 – IOWA (KWWL)

SF 2191 aims to change the way Iowa schools respond to random fire alarms in the day, adding a wait time to ensure the alarm was not pulled by a school shooter.

Nathan Arnold with the Professional Educators of Iowa organization is supportive of the bill.

“Kids and teachers should feel safe when they go to school, and it’s important to prepare for every contingency, even the ones we don’t typically necessarily want to think about,” Arnold said. 

Brock Weliver is a Fire Marshal with the Waterloo Fire Department. He says the bill could have other consequences.

“Schools are already training their staff and students to react to a myriad of different kinds of drills, and having them not react to fire drills that are received outside of pre-planned fire drills would desensitize the children and staff to hazards that are present within their building,” Weliver said. 

“There needs to be a more holistic approach for all hazards, not just trading one problem for another, and throwing the baby out with the bathwater,” he added.

Up Next – Iowa Republican shelves bill to criminalize death of an “unborn person” because of IVF concerns



The bill is based off of a policy already in place in the North Scott district. Enacted after the Parkland School Shooting in 2018, the policy requires schools to verify an alarm before evacuating students and staff from classrooms. In Parkland, the shooter pulled the fire alarm before opening fire.

“In the scenario where a school shooter pulls the fire alarm as a way to manipulate people out of their classrooms and into harms way is a scenario that we have to take into account and we have to make a plan for,” said Arnold.

Weliver says there is another solution lawmakers and districts could look into- removing pull alarms from schools. He sent a letter to lawmakers earlier this week expressing his concerns, and the concerns of other fire professionals. 

“Current fire code and building code does allow for the removal of the manual pull stations, when certain criteria are met, so there are already alternative solutions to move forward and reduce the chance of false alarms,” he explained, adding, “there are better ways to move forward to create better and safer environments for our children and our schools.”

Arnold says while they’d like the bill to be passed into law- they’d also like experts to be a part of district conversations as they make their own protocols.

“We’d like to see the bill move forward, and then when they come up with the specifics of how the plan should be addressed, we want all the experts at the table to weigh the best policies, to make sure response time to an actual fire are in no way reduced- but also to prepare for the contingency of a fire alarm being mis-used,” explained Arnold.

The bill still needs to pass a House Education Committee before the end of the second funnel week, this Friday. It has already passed the Senate.