MVHS reacts to the fire that happened on campus


Mallika Singh

Loud, blaring sounds come from the walls and in the walkways. Lights flash. Teachers immediately stop their lessons in their rooms. Students quickly walk out to the blacktop, field or parking lot chattering while being told to remain quiet. It’s what appears to be the fire drill that happens each month, a procedure students follow to practice their classroom procedures in case of a fire: where they walk to, who carries the emergency backpack.

Only this was no drill.

On Monday, Jan. 23, 2017 during first period, there was a fire in the boys locker room caused by the heating, ventilation and air conditioning, or HVAC unit. According to facilities manager Chris Kenney, the HVAC unit came on early in the morning but was not working properly because of a malfunctioning belt. The motor powering the HVAC unit was operating but the belt that moves along with it remained stationary causing friction and eventually led to smoke.

“About 20 minutes later [the alarm went off]; of course, class [had] just started,” Kenney said, mimicking the sound of the fire alarm.

Many students were not entirely sure if what had happened was a drill or not. Sophomore Isha Chakraborty explained that during first period, when the alarm went off, her teacher looked a bit shocked.

Typically, there is one fire drill each month for students to practice what to in case of a real one and this one was not planned. Kenney explained that usually the fire drills are scheduled months in advance and if the weather is good, things work out fine. Occasionally they have had to reschedule the fire drill because of rain, but typically it happens as planned. He also explained that teachers are always informed of when the fire drill will happen, so they can plan for it as a part of their lesson.

Junior Forest Yang thinks the monthly fire drill is a necessary practice. Even though he has participated in fire drills since elementary school, he stills feels that they are an important part of safety procedures.

“One [fire drill] a month helps us remember what we need to do in case of an actual fire,” Yang said.

Chakraborty agreed with him, explaining that it’s necessary to invoke a type of fear as students don’t usually take the drills seriously.

Fire drills have always been a part of school, along with other drills, preparing students for the worst. Kenney explained that the problem with the HVAC was fixed, and he was glad that the fire drills did their job in preparing everyone to quickly get out of their rooms, even though it wasn’t a very big fire.