Court Fines Family of High School Student $50k for a Sprinkler Prank

This article was last updated on April 16, 2022

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A court ruling has asked the family of a Vancouver Island high school student to pay up to $48,630 in fine after the boy triggered the school’s entire sprinkler system during a prank on a friend. The 14-year-old boy was allegedly playing a prank at Wellington Secondary in Nanaimo, B.C., in 2012, when he triggered the sprinklers and caused the entire school to evacuate.

The incident took place during the break, when the boy got hold of a friend’s padlock and intended to hide it as a “prank.” The statement made public by B.C. Supreme Court judge, Justice Shelley Fitzpatrick, on Wednesday explained that first a “lunch supervisor witnessed” the boy try to place it on the metal bar of a door. Thereafter, he noticed a sprinkler head on the ceiling of an upstairs hallway and Fitzpatrick wrote that “(the boy) decided to attach the padlock to the sprinkler head. The ceiling is eight feet tall.” It was added that “shortly after (the boy’s) last jump toward the sprinkler head, the red filament inside the sprinkler head was disturbed and, as sprinkler heads are intended to operate, it immediately began spraying water.”

Consequently, the incident triggered the school’s entire sprinkler and fire alarm system causing the whole school to evacuate. According to the court statement, the boy immediately confessed his actions to a teacher. Fitzpatrick writes that “this was clearly the result of a young boy misbehaving and thinking that the only grief to come of it would be to (his friend) and perhaps the janitor in removing the padlock,” adding that “obviously, more dire consequences followed.”

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