At 10:57 Wednesday morning, the fire alarm unexpectedly went off and the school was evacuated.
On the way out of the various MFS buildings, students and teachers wondered what prompted the unscheduled fire alarm.
“There was no fire. It was an electrical problem with the fire alarm panel on the first floor,” said Director of Finance and Operations Lisa Carbone Warren.
The alarm rang during Upper School Meeting for Worship, and Associate Head of School and Academic Dean Chris Kimberly was speaking.
While Kimberly was speaking, students could hear the alarm in the other building, and a flurry of activity occurred. Announcements from Math Teacher Michael Omilian’s radio were audible; Math Teacher Sarah Kelly entered the Meeting House and mouthed something to Dean of Students Mike Brunswick, who then, after leaving the Meeting House briefly, returned and made the announcement to evacuate to the fields once Kimberly had finished speaking. By 11:00, the Meeting House had been evacuated. Kimberly added via email that he “didn’t hear the arm at all!”
The first sirens in the front of the school were heard by 11:05. Students were cleared to reenter the building by 11:08.
Many students asked why they were told to walk back towards the main building when there could have been a threat of a fire. Carbone Warren told WordsWorth that it’s “so [the administration] can take attendance. We’ve developed a system for Hartman Hall [where students no longer walk towards the main building in the event of a fire] but only administration and the nurses office do not go down to the fields.”
Carbone Warren further explained that in the event of a bomb threat, all students must move as far away from all buildings as soon as possible.
When students returned to the Meeting House, the flashing lights from the fire truck parked in front of Stokes Hall flickered onto the back wall of the Meeting House. Brunswick complimented the Upper School on a “really nice job”, given that the procedure was “not planned.” Carbone Warren added that the false alarm does not count towards the school’s required amount of drills per month.
UPDATE 2/7/18: This article has been updated to reflect quotes from Chris Kimberly.
UPDATE 2/8/18: Lisa Carbone Warren told WordsWorth that the cause of the false alarm was “caused by a bad smoke detector.”