An unplanned fire evacuation last Wednesday made for a chaotic E period on the school campus. Two alarms were triggered: at 12:47 p.m., a fire alarm went off in Tillinghast Hall, causing students to evacuate the building; two minutes later, a trouble signal went off in Rose Hall.
The first alarm in Tillinghast was caused by water work in the neighborhood, performed by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Assistant Director of Public Safety, Peter Clancy, said. The DEP is a New York State organization that works to ensure the wellbeing of New York residents by supplying drinking water and disposing of waste water, according to its website.
The work caused an abnormal water pressure, Director of Public Safety Michael McCaw said. “This abnormal water pressure tripped a pressure switch on the sprinkler system of our fire alarm system, thus generating an alarm.”
However, the second alarm in Rose Hall was not actually a fire alarm. “Trouble signals do activate a loud alarm bell but do not raise to the level of the need to evacuate,” McCaw said. “Due to the loudness of the trouble bell, the Middle Division evacuated the building.”
Meanwhile, while the fire department arrived at the scene, students in Lutnick Hall did not hear the alarm. “I had class in Lutnick, and when I left the building I was super confused,” Mia Calzolaio (10) said. “I had no clue what was going on.”
The students and faculty who evacuated gathered on Alumni Field and followed fire drill protocol. Armed Public Safety personnel responded to both alarms set off in Tillinghast and Rose Hall.
This is the first year where all fire drills are announced. “Thus far, any fire alarm activation, which has been unscheduled, has been the result of a fire alarm system equipment issue,” McCaw said. However, when students aren’t sure of what to do, they should always evacuate, he said.