Reactions to the November Fire at Midwood High School

By Artur Radetskiy

On Tuesday November 27th, a fire broke out on the fourth floor of Midwood High School. At approximately 7:50 a.m. the fire alarm sounded, signaling to 4,000 teachers and students that they needed to evacuate. [1]

There was some initial confusion regarding the legitimacy of the fire alarm.

“Our alarm system spontaneously goes off so this time when it went off everyone assumed that it wasn’t a real alarm,” said Jasmine Jolley ’14, a student from Midwood. The teachers and students started to evacuate after an announcement was made confirming that there was a fire.

The majority of the students were able to keep calm during the evacuation and, as a result, students were able to leave the building quickly and without any injuries. After exiting the building, students were led a few blocks away from Midwood while the firemen arrived. At about 8:11 a.m., the firemen were able to get the fire under control. [2]

The students continued to wait outside for approximately 30 minutes until the firemen deemed Midwood safe. The students were then led into the annex, auditorium, and the gym of the school while the teachers waited in the lobby.

At around 10:50 a.m., or 5th period, classes resumed for teachers and students. The section of the fourth floor that had been on fire was blocked off from teachers and students in the days following the 27th.

For Midwood students, the first few days following the fire were strange but most students have adjusted and forgotten about the fire.

“The first couple of days were weird,” said Jessica Tolchinsky ’14, a Midwood student. “It felt like a different school and a lot of people were in shock but now it’s like nothing ever happened.”

The efficient evacuation at Midwood and the lack of injuries can be attributed to frequent fire drills held this year. As previously reported, New York City schools are required to have twelve unannounced fire drills every year, eight of which must be between September 1st and December 1st. [2]

Before this year, teachers were notified before the fire drill occurred so they had a chance to reschedule tests or lessons. Now, however, the teachers will also be surprised by the fire drill.

The fire drills prepare both teachers and students for situations like the one Midwood faced.

“The main purpose of fires drills is so that people know what to do and will not panic,” said Dean Jackie Manduley. “There were some fires in Tech before and no one was panicking because of fire drills.”

[1] Chapman, Ben; Kemp, Joe; Siemaszko Corkey. “Midwood High School fire triggers evacuation.” The Daily News. November, 27th, 2012. http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/midwood-high-school-fire-triggers-evacuation-article-1.1208661

[2] “N.Y. EDN. LAW § 807 : NY Code – Section 807: Fire drills.” FindLaw. http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/nycode/EDN/I/17/807

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