The award-winning Shaker Heights High School student news organization

The Shakerite

The award-winning Shaker Heights High School student news organization

The Shakerite

The award-winning Shaker Heights High School student news organization

The Shakerite

False Alarm

Cooking vegetables to create dyes prompts evacuation before school
Natalie Sekicky

High school students and staff evacuated at 8:10 a.m. today after preparations for an art class set off fire alarms. 

The evacuation began just as students were being admitted to the building. The fire department arrived shortly thereafter and allowed students to reenter at 8:23 a.m.

The fire department’s scene commander initially told dispatchers that the alarm was set off by burning plastic. Principal Eric Juli clarified that it was due to “heated up art supplies.”

Fashion Design teacher Matt Deibel said there was no smoke, but that the heating element for a roasting pan got too hot, setting off the alarm in his classroom, Room 103.  “We were doing fabric dyeing with natural ingredients,” Deibel said. The class was boiling vegetables — such as carrots, beets and cabbage — in water to make fabric dye.

According to Deibel, the roasting pan’s heating element reached temperatures in excess of 200 degrees, which is what set off the alarm.

“I thought somebody pulled it,” said junior Jade Talley, who did not think the alarm was anything serious when she arrived at the high school.

Junior Naran Khoury had just arrived at the school when he saw students evacuating. He said he started driving home until he received a text from a friend that students were returning to the building. 

“I thought it was going to be another bomb-threat day,” said Khoury, referring to a September 2021 threat that delayed classes until 11:39 a.m.

Both students said that their first-block class was only shortened by a few minutes.

“The good news is this will count as our October fire drill,” Juli said in an email sent to staff at 8:28 a.m. Juli said that he did not check this plan with the fire department, adding that counting unplanned alarms as drills has been standard practice for his 13 years as a principal.

However, according to Ohio Administrative Code, these alarms may not qualify as drills. “Evacuations made necessary by the unplanned activation of a fire alarm system or by any other emergency shall not be substituted for a required evacuation drill,” the fire code states.

Shaker Heights Fire Inspector Lou Bottone did not immediately respond to The Shakerite’s request for comment.

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