False fire alarm causes evacuation at John Abbott
The triggering of smoke alarms at around noon on Monday at John Abbott College in Ste. Anne de Bellevue caused the total evacuation of three main buildings on the waterfront campus, parts of which are more than 100 years old.
Though Montreal firefighters from Ste. Anne de Bellevue responded in full force to the fire alarms, it was later determined that there was no fire at all at the English CEGEP.
Rather, the smoke that triggered alarms in Casgrain, Penfield and Herzberg buildings was generated by roof repair work being done on the Casgrain building.
The buildings’ alarm systems are linked, so all were evacuated as a precaution.
“We learned late Monday night that there never was a fire at all,” Debbie Cribb, JAC Communications Officer said Tuesday morning.
Confusion following the supposed fire led to media reports claiming a fire had started in a building at McGill’s Macdonald campus, which shares land with John Abbott College.
“There never was a fire at all, and it was never in a McGill building,” Cribb clarified.
It was not clear what time the fire alarm sounded, but according to Cribb the three buildings were evacuated for a little more than an hour Monday afternoon. The school issued an update at 1:26 p.m. indicating the evacuated buildings were again open. When the alarms sounded, some of the school’s 6,200 daytime students, as well as staff, were forced to stop what they were doing and immediately leave the buildings, which include the college’s library.
“They were outside for maybe 20 minutes before they were directed to other buildings to stay warm,” Cribb said. Students and staff were advised to seek shelter in the cafeteria, the new science building, Centennial Centre and Macdonald High School.
Repairs on the roof at Casgrain began on Nov. 19th. Cribb is not sure when the work will be completed. There are no plans to disengage alarms while work continues. “Workers will just have to be more aware of the smoke and things like which way the wind is blowing,” Cribb noted.