September 28, 2020

BY MARYSSA MCFADDEN

Rumours run rampant in a college setting, which is exactly what happened on Oct. 9 at Conestoga College’s Doon campus.

Around 9:30 on the Thursday morning, fire alarms rang shrilly throughout the school. With fire drills being held each semester, this normally wouldn’t be a cause for concern.

However, Conestoga students knew the biannual fire drill had already taken place days before on Sept. 25. This meant the alarms which sounded on the morning of the ninth had to be the real deal.

Rumours, which circulated amongst the student body, included that the fire alarm had been pulled by a student, that it was a second precautionary drill, and that a large amount of smoke in the school had set off the fire detectors.

However, a Conestoga security official put the rumours to rest.

“Renovations to an unoccupied room in the 2C area at Doon resulted in a broken sprinkler head. This incident triggered our alarm system, thus necessitating the evacuation of the main building,” said Kirsty Bradley-McMurtrie, director of Safety and Security Services at Conestoga College.

While everyone hurried out the nearest doors and got away from the building, Safety and Security Services staff had different tasks to complete during this time of confusion.

“Searching the area of concern to confirm if the fire is real, ensuring the building is evacuated, traffic control of main roadways for emergency vehicles and escorting emergency personnel to the area,” were just a few of her staff’s roles, Bradley-McMurtrie said.

They are also in charge of overseeing emergency communications, monitoring emergency zones, collecting data from fire wardens to ensure the safety of those outside the building and monitoring the fire panel.

Bradley-McMurtrie said the safety and security team conduct all kinds of different scenarios when Conestoga’s campuses are vacant on the weekends in order to properly prepare for emergencies.

On Oct. 9 the main building was evacuated in approximately four minutes, a minute slower than when the fire drill was held in late September.

Bradley-McMurtrie said it is important for all Conestoga occupants to evacuate the buildings as quickly as possible whether or not it is rumoured to be a drill.

“Treat every alarm as a real alarm situation and listen closely to all announcements,” she said.

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