By Raul Gregory
The day started out like any other. It was Monday, April 9, the first day back to school after spring break. We all went to first period and followed the teachers’ instructions, and at 9:30 AM we were reading our independent reading books when it happened. I had just turned the page of my book when the sound of the fire alarm pierced through the air. We followed our teacher who led us outside. It was cold. I remember hearing a student say, “I’m so cold. When will this drill be over?”
We stayed out there for what seemed like forever. At this point we had surpassed the average waiting time for a fire drill, and realised that there might have actually been an issue inside of school worth evacuation. We soon learned that there was an issue because the fire department arrived. I heard others talking nervously. People began contemplating what had happened. After a while we were told that we were to go down to the gym. Once there, the rumors spread like wildfire. One kid sitting to my right said that the cafeteria had caught fire. The kid to my left said that the paper towel dispenser had malfunctioned and caught fire. We sat in the gym chatting and spreading rumors for at least ten minutes until a police officer or firefighter told us what had happened. Apparently a small fire had broken out in the upstairs boys’ bathroom. We were sent back to class around 10:30 after it was confirmed that the classes were safe for reentry
To find out what really happened, I interviewed our school superintendent, Dr. Wisniewski. He started off by telling me that when he heard the fire alarm that day he thought it was a malfunction or the boiler was letting off steam. A teacher alerted him to the fire in a garbage can in the upstairs boys bathroom apparently set by a student. When he realized what was really going on, he knew that the situation at hand was much worse than he thought. Dr. W described the fire as a “trident of flames” because the flames had torn through both sides of the garbage can and had also burst through the top creating what appeared to be a trident. He was able to put out the fire with a fire extinguisher. Police are investigating the incident.
Dr. W. said that reflecting on the experience made him realize that everyone did what they were supposed to do. He discussed how proud he was of the students of Bradley Beach, saying this was an isolated incident, and that we are safe here in our wonderful little school. To end the interview, I asked him about the black lock covers that were installed on classroom doors after the fire. He told me that they are designed to make sure doors are remained locked at all times. They are helpful for lockdown drills, and can also be used for preventing cross ventilation so that oxygen cannot get to a potential fire.
Thanks to quick thinking and proper training, our school is safe. Now let’s make sure it stays that way!