By Ed Harris
An overheated HVAC unit at DePaolo Middle School caused a minor evacuation Tuesday, after it started smoking, triggering the school’s fire alarm.
Southington Fire Chief Harold “Buddy” Clark said the department was dispatched to the school due to an unknown odor. The students were in the process of evacuating when the fire department arrived on scene, Clark said.
The students were outside for about 45 minutes.
When firefighters arrived, they found smokey conditions in the boy’s and girl’s locker room and the adjacent halls. The fire department determined that the smoke was from a HVAC unit on the second floor of the school, in one of the school’s mechanical rooms.
Clark said that the HVAC unit had an overheated motor and had a burned belt.
Once the situation was stabilized, the students were allowed back into the school’s auditorium, before ultimately returning to class.
“The fire department ventilated the affected areas of the school before students were allowed to return to classes,” Clark said.
DePaolo Assistant Principal Chris Palmieri said the school’s maintenance department was handling the necessary repairs on the HVAC unit. He also praised the efforts of the Southington Fire Department.
“The fire department, as always, did a great job of pinpointing the problem,” Palmieri said.