Hot iron causes Rugby evacuation

By Wendy Chen

The use of irons was the likely cause of a fire alarm going off in Rugby on Sept. 30. 

The alarm sounded in the costume shop, adjacent to the drama office. 

During fourth period that day, performing arts teacher Lisa Peters was holding a class in the shop.  Inside there is a table where students can iron fabrics.  Two fire sensors are also located within the room, directly above and behind the table.  Shortly before the fire alarm went off, some of Peter’s students were using the irons at ironing table. 

At 11:11 a.m., the fire alarm went off.

Many fourth-period classes in Rugby and the surrounding buildings were evacuated for approximately five minutes as a result of the alarm.

What caused the fire alarm to sound is not known due to the lack of smoke, fumes, and other telling signs of fire.  Head of Upper School Harry Salamandra said the use of one of the class’s irons could have set off the alarm. 

“It was invisible particulates that set it off.  They didn’t know it was going to set it off,” he said.

Salamandra believes that a fusible adhesive could have gotten stuck to one of the irons.  If an adhesive strips were to leave a residue of glue on an iron, the burning of the glue could have triggered the sensor next to the ironing table. 

Peters offered another possible explanation: The irons could have burned a cleaning substance and set off the alarm.  She had applied this cleaner to the sole plate of one of the irons only minutes before the alarm sounded.

Despite the fact that the alarm sounded when there was no fire, Salamandra said he is happy that the alarm was sensitve enough to sound.

“Personally, I’m glad that [the sensors] are that sensitive,” he said.  “It got people out of a potential problem.  If you have to err on one side, I’d rather it err on the side of safety.”