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HS Steam Pipe Bursts, Students Out in Cold

Fire alarm at West Orange High School leaves students and staff in the cold for more than 20 minutes in Wednesday's 18-degree weather.

West Orange High School students and staff were forced to evacuate the building and stand out in the cold 18-degree weather Wednesday afternoon for more than 20 minutes after a steam pipe burst in the boiler room, West Orange fire officials said. 

According to the fire department, a steam pipe broke in boiler room at about 2:10 and filled the room with steam. The steam spilled out into the hallway and set the school's fire alarms off at 2:13 p.m.

Students and staff were then forced to exit the building, located at 51 Conforti Ave., without coats, officials said. 

Fire Deputy Chief Paul Wannemacher said the crew worked as quickly as possible to get the students and staff back in the school possible because of weather conditions.

A reverse 911 call from the district around 4 p.m. said buses transporting students home from school were delayed 15-20 minutes because of the incident.

Mark Paulson January 24, 2013 at 12:26 PM
This article makes it sound like someone did something wrong. The usage of a particular word can drastically change the tone of this report. These students were not "forced" out. They were "required" to leave the building for their own safety. The authorities handled the situation properly. This kind of reporting only causes people to become unnecessarily upset. It the administration allowed the students to remain in the building while the fire alarms were sounding, the families would have been very angry. This was an unfortunate event but the reporter needs to take more caution in the future when he is reporting these kinds of events. Now people will be upset with the Board of Ed and other individuals when everything was done appropriately. Let's applaud the people who were looking out for the safety of our students and let's have a little more thought when words are used to describe events like this in the future.
Beverly Meaux January 24, 2013 at 12:54 PM
This seems like a catch-22. As a parent of a student who experienced this yesterday, I understand the process but the kids were simply freezing and were looking for more direction during the process. However, if they had let the students stay in the building when the alarm went off and they got hurt, I would be upset, too. Hence, the catch-22.
barry_geltzeiler January 24, 2013 at 02:17 PM
it is either federal law or state law that requires you to evacuate the building when a fire alarm goes off. It is not a choice...
Heather Detmar January 24, 2013 at 05:04 PM
The kids went into the "bubble" to stay warm which is not attached to the building and they were kicked out.
Lori January 24, 2013 at 06:04 PM
I'm not sure if the high school rules are the same as the middle schools, but it's reasons like this that makes it hard for a parent to be ok with their child not being allowed to wear coats inside the school. I understand its a safety thing, but my family tends to be feeling more cold than comfortable during the winter months. I'm glad everyone was ok and that the school did the right thing by evacuating. Poor kids & staff!!!

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