Stories from Verulam School, St Albans, pupils on how they heard their school was on fire

PUBLISHED: 09:50 26 February 2009 | UPDATED: 13:57 06 May 2010

Pupil tells of choking smoke in corridor

Pupil tells of choking smoke in corridor

CLAIMS that Verulam School s fire alarm system failed to sound when the blaze broke out are being investigated. The fire service inspected the system at the boys school yesterday but it will be closed today (Thursday) and tomorrow for technicians to carr

CLAIMS that Verulam School's fire alarm system failed to sound when the blaze broke out are being investigated.

The fire service inspected the system at the boys' school yesterday but it will be closed today (Thursday) and tomorrow for technicians to carry out further checks.

Numerous pupils have contacted the Herts Advertiser claiming that the alarms did not go off when Tuesday's fire started although everyone was evacuated safely.

One pupil said: "The fire alarm did not go off anywhere in the school, I was alerted when a Year 7 was crying 'fire'. I'm disappointed that we were not alerted."

A sixth-form student, who was in the room next to where the fire started, said: "The reports that no alarms were sounded are sadly 100 per cent true - we were only alerted to the fire when black smoke seeped through the door."

The student continued: "We immediately evacuated the room but the other classes also had no idea about the fire. Two students stayed and opened the doors and alerted both teacher and class, and harrowingly they had no idea of the fire. At this point the corridor was filled with thick black smoke making breathing extremely hard."

He added: "I would like an explanation for why the alarms were not working and how the school was allowed to be open if the staff knew this was the case. However, the teaching staff did react extremely well to the problem and dealt with it in an efficient manner."

Pupil T said: "No fire alarm went off as far as we know, however the school did an excellent job evacuating us all, not an easy task."

He said head teacher Paul Ramsey did an "excellent job" of handling the situation and keeping staff and pupils informed.

Pupil S, said: "My class was alerted by a frantic student who burst into the classroom telling us there was a real fire."

Another pupil who was in a neighbouring building close to the fire said he didn't hear any alarms and his fellow pupils around the school hadn't either.

Mr Ramsey said yesterday: "The fire service inspected the system today and carried out two successful evacuations. Following that it was decided that the school should be closed on Thursday and Friday to allow technicians complete access to the alarm system without disruption to the school and the pupils. We're sorry if this causes any inconvenience, but the safety of the pupils is our paramount concern. We look forward to welcoming everybody back at school on Monday.

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