Spray paint fumes trip fire alarm, SILC building evacuates

Photo+by+Mariah+Unruh.%0ABand+students+returning+to+class+after+the+building+was+cleared+by+the+MSFD.

Photo by Mariah Unruh. Band students returning to class after the building was cleared by the MSFD.

The Manitou Springs School District’s SILC building was evacuated on Feb. 28 after spray paint was sprayed in the hallway of the third floor, causing the fumes, which were not ventilated, to set off the fire alarm.

The Manitou Springs Fire Department was alerted when the alarm was sounded, and, as firefighter Mike Willie describes, arrived on scene at the SILC.

“We sent two guys in to investigate why the alarm went off,” said Willie. “It was reported to us as we arrived that there had been spray paint in the hallway on the third floor.”

Photo by Mariah Unruh. Emergency services at the SILC building.
Photo by Mariah Unruh.
Emergency services at the SILC building.

The two firefighters who investigated the building then discovered that spray paint was indeed was indeed the cause of the tripped alarm. They reset the alarm and ventilated the area, according to Willie.

Dan Gieck, the Director of Buildings and Grounds for Manitou Springs High School, was in his office when the alarm went off and went on scene to assist.

“My job is, basically, just to come over and make sure that the building is evacuated, that emergency staff is on site, and then try to, when I can, find out what the reasons are for the call,” said Gieck. “I’ll coordinate with the firefighters to see what’s going on. If they have any questions, as far as what’s in the building, then myself and the staff will try to provide that information.”

According to staff and students in the SILC at the time, the evacuation proceeded smoothly and calmly. Band students on the second floor even took their instruments with them when they evacuated to the commons.

Photo by Mariah Unruh. Band students returning to class after the building was cleared by the MSFD.
Photo by Mariah Unruh.
Band students returning to class after the building was cleared by the MSFD.

“As far as I know, it went well. I didn’t get over there right away. The building was pretty much evacuated by the time I got the call,” said Gieck.

Payroll accountant Patti Hickox, who was working in the first floor of the SILC when the alarm sounded, described the evacuation.

“I was working when I heard the alarm, and I knew I had to evacuate,” said Hickox. “I thought that either a child had pulled the alarm, or something from the art classes got up into the sensors. The students that I saw evacuating were all very calm.”

This is not the first time that Hickox, who has worked in the SILC for eight years, has had to undergo an unscheduled evacuation.

“I think I’ve had to evacuate around six times in the past,” said Hickox.

“It’s not super common, but it does happen every now and then. There are a lot of things that can set these alarms off,” explained Willie.

According to Gieck, this was the first non-scheduled evacuation since he has been the Director of Buildings and Grounds, which is about one year and four months.

By Keegan Bockhorst