By Emily Money
All after-school student life was continuing as normal when the fire alarm sounded Wednesday, January 23. Students rushed to exit the building in the -2°F weather, unaware of what was happening. The fire department arrived quickly, but discovered nothing more than a broken pipe in the sprinkler system because of the extremely cold temperatures that day.
“The pipe that feeds the fire suppression sprinkler system outside of Mr. Schoff’s room had a crack in the elbow at the top, near the outside of the building, and once that crack happened, the pipes started to shake,” explained Principal Chuck Morgan, who was present at the time. “There’s a little glass tube that will break when the temperature gets too high in a fire, which usually starts the sprinklers. With this, the pipes shaking broke the tube and caused the sprinkler to start.”
The small flood in G Hall was easy to fix. Mark Gall, Commerce Township fireman for 21 years, said, “We just had to shut off the water to the building, which stopped the flow from the sprinkler.”
The fire department did, however, have a problem with people evacuating the building. “We had some people still in the building. Even though it wasn’t a big incident, when people don’t know what’s going on, it’s just better to get out,” Gall advised.
Not much damage was caused by this incident. G Hall is mainly rubberized and tilts away from the doorways in the hallway, so the media center and other classrooms remained dry for the most part. Enviro Clean, a Michigan building maintenance company, came and had everything cleaned up in about an hour.
In total, the break in the pipe was not a big issue. The pipes in three other buildings broke that day, as well. It’s a common occurrence with the cold Michigan weather.