Middle school fire alarms set off by faulty detector
Area firefighters responded twice last Thursday to fire alarms at Warm Springs Middle School. No fire or smoke was found either time. The incidents were attributed to a faulty fire detector unit.
The first call came in to Morgan County 911 Dispatch Center around 9:30 a.m. on October 18, said Berkeley Springs Volunteer Fire Company Chief Todd Ruppenthal.
When they arrived on the scene, there was nothing obvious from the outside of the building. The school had been 100% evacuated and school representatives met them outside.
Ruppenthal sent crews inside to where the active alarm panel was located. They checked the area and above the ceiling tile and found nothing, he said. The incident was marked faulty alarm and the firefighters left a short time later.
Berkeley Springs and Hancock Volunteer Fire Companies were first dispatched to the scene for the initial call. A full alarm was called in after school personnel said they had smelled smoke. Great Cacapon and South Morgan Volunteer Fire Companies along with Morgan County Emergency Medical Services also responded, Ruppenthal said.
The second fire alarm call was dispatched around 11:05 a.m. The school was again evacuated. They found a problem with the same smoke detector unit, he said.
They opened a wing of the school and shut the fire doors so the school could start lunch while they continued their investigation.
Berkeley Springs and Great Cacapon Volunteer Fire Companies responded to the second alarm and Hancock firefighters were on the way, he said. Units left the scene around 11:50 a.m.
The Morgan County Sheriff’s Department and Department of Transportation personnel assisted with traffic and shut down the road.
Ruppenthal said the school would maintain a fire watch until the smoke alarm was fixed. He commended the middle school for how well they handled the evacuations and responded to the fire alarms.
Morgan County Schools maintenance supervisor Alston Yost said on Monday morning that there were no other fire alarms at the school after the Thursday incidents. The bad smoke detector had been reset. The area it monitored was still protected because there was one smoke detector on either side.
Everyone said they smelled smoke on Thursday, but there may have been some smoke initially caused by the unit first coming on after being off for a while, he said. It cleared up right away once it was reset.
Yost said that a new smoke detector would hopefully arrive sometime on Monday. He would install the unit as soon as it came in.