Fire forces evacuation of NPHS


Kevin Manero

Smoke pours out of the first floor Fpod area of NPHS as emergency personnel arrive on the scene. A two alarm fire caused the evacuation of the building around 11:30am on Tuesday, May 24, 2016.

TOWAMENCIN- A two-alarm fire disrupted the school day at North Penn High School on Tuesday when flames and thick black smoke in a band room storage area forced a school-wide evacuation and shut down of the building for the remainder of the day. Classes resumed on time on Wednesday morning, with the area in F-pod most effected by the fire closed off to students and staff.

Around 11:30AM on Tuesday, fire alarms were sounded, and North Penn High School’s 3,000 students along with all building personnel were evacuated in accordance with normal fire drill procedures, while emergency officials responded to the fire and were able to contain it to the area where it was centered. Smoke damage and air quality were a concern, however, and the building remained closed for the remainder of the day, with students being dismissed around 1:00pm.

In an interview with The Reporter, NPSD superintendent Dr. Curt Dietrich stated: “The first thing you want to make sure of is that everyone’s safe, that there were no casualties or injuries and everybody was able to get out of the building safely,”  “We can certainly replace equipment or whatever might be lost in terms of real estate, but you can’t replace a life. So the first concern always is to get that report that everybody’s out of the building safely. and I was very grateful to hear that.”

Staff members await further instructions following a full evacuation of NPHS due to a 2 alarm fire on Tuesday. Staff were dismissed after all students were able to safely leave the property.
Kevin Manero
Staff members await further instructions following a full evacuation of NPHS due to a 2 alarm fire on Tuesday. Staff were dismissed after all students were able to safely leave the property.

During the evacuation, students were led away from the building to a grassy area beyond the bus circle where they remained until district buses were able to assemble to pick students up and transport them home. Students were not permitted back into the building and had to wait until Wednesday morning to reclaim their belongings which remained in their sixth period locations from where they were dismissed at the time of the alarm.

First year principal Todd Bauer, getting no chance this year to just ease into the job, was more than impressed with the manner in which the situation was handled.

“The response, given the chaotic nature or the event, was outstanding. Our students were attentive and appropriate, the faculty and staff were helpful and supportive, and the administration at both the building and central office levels were incredibly responsive throughout the event. While I was making most of the final decisions, it was with the input and advice of many others. Dr. Dietrich and Mr. Schneider helped to guide the process and Dr. McKay provided much support. I have been proud of many things throughout my first year at North Penn, but never have I been more proud of the response from all stakeholders than I was yesterday. All things considered, I thought it went wonderfully,” Bauer explained.

As of Wednesday morning, North Penn High School was back to a normal 9 period bell schedule, and with the exception of a few classroom location changes, it was all systems go as the staff and students returned to work in the final home stretch of the school year. Meanwhile, the cause of the fire remains under investigation.