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School, firefighters earn praise for alarm response
snelson evacuation
Snelson-Golden Middle School students were evacuated Thursday morning after a faculty member spotted smoke in a hall and activated emergency procedures. There was no fire, but Hinesville Fire Department did find electrical problems, prompting them to shut power off to the technology wing. - photo by Phgoto by Patty Leon
Snelson-Golden Middle School’s fire safety program was put through a live test Thursday when a faculty member spotted smoke in the 200 hall and activated emergency procedure.
According to Hinesville Fire Department Lt. Chris Moss the initial call came in at 9:37 a.m.
“It was called out as a structure fire,” he said. “A faculty member of the school saw smoke, heard a loud pop, so one of the school faculty pulled a pull-station alarm and that is when we responded to it.”
Moss said upon arriving, school administrators said they thought they had a power surge.
“The school was running on backup power from the generator,” Moss said. “I sent two teams in and they did a thorough search, using the thermal imaging cameras and they were unable to find any fire whatsoever. Deeming the building to be safe, we sent maintenance personnel in with one of the teams and he turned the power back on. When they did they were able to smell the burning smell again and we were able to narrow it down to one room, I believe it was the technology room, so we shut the power off to that wing of the building.”
With the problem isolated and the power off to that area, the kids were allowed back in school around 11 a.m.
Moss said he knew Georgia Power was working on power lines near the school and said he spoke to a representative who said they would send someone to the school.
Lynn Wallace, spokesperson for Georgia Power, said a squirrel was the likely culprit, causing a power surge that affected Snelson-Golden, Joseph Martin Elementary, area residential customers and a hotel. In all, she said, 89 customers were without power for 90 minutes.
“It blew a fuse which might have caused a dip in the voltage which could cause such problems,” she said.
Moss said he was pleased with the way the school handled the emergency.
“Everything went well,” he said.
“The school did an excellent job at responding to the initial smell of smoke,” Cheryl Conley, Liberty County assistant superintendent, said. “The staff was so efficient that they had already manually pulled the fire alarm before the smoke alarm was activated.”
Conley said BOE staff went to the school and found the school was evacuated prior to arrival of the fire department.
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