The fire that wasn’t: Founders Hall classes disrupted by smoke

John Rader

By John Rader
November 11, 2022

Radnor Fire Department looks up to the second floor window where  smoke was spotted. Photo by Thomas Ryan.
Radnor Fire Department looks up to the second floor window where smoke was spotted. Photo by Thomas Ryan.

At roughly 10:45 Thursday morning, a fire alarm went off in Founders Hall and the building was evacuated. This is the second time in the last two weeks Founders Hall experienced a fire alert. The first time, a faulty smoke detector was to blame.

Rumors circulated throughout the Cabrini community as students and faculty alike reported seeing smoke.

The Radnor Fire department was on the scene about 15 minutes after the alarm was sounded, and it took an additional 45 minutes before anyone was allowed to re-enter the building. 

An unexpected disturbance

The cause of the fire? Well, there was no fire.

The Radnor Fire Department and Cabrini Security officers assess the situation. Photo by Thomas Ryan.

“The source of the fire alarm was dust and debris that entered the 2nd floor due to our team using a backpack blower to remove leaves, dust and debris from the ramp,” Patricia Smith, director of facilities, said.

The dust and debris entered the building through an open door, which triggered the smoke alarm. Smoke alarms cannot differentiate smoke, which is why the dust from the backpack triggered the alarms.

Smith apologized for the inconvenience which led to class being disrupted and said that for future instances the maintenance staff will use brooms as opposed to backpack blowers to clean up any dust.

“I was supposed to have a presentation that I prepared all night for,” Eddie Martin, senior communication major, said. His presentation is now pushed back until next week. 

The disturbance occurred towards the end of the 9:50 a.m. block of classes, and cut the 11:05 a.m. block of classes in half, which led some professors to cancel classes. 

A haze of confusion

The whole ordeal lasted longer than it should have due to the outside source of smoke, as the Radnor Fire Department, and Cabrini maintenance spent roughly 45 minutes searching the building for where the fire supposedly started.

“We could not locate the source,” Joe Maguire, Radnor fire chief said. His team was certain that the haze of smoke was coming from the second floor, but not where the smoke entered the building.

The entrance to Founders Hall being blocked by a Radnor Township Fire Truck. Photo by: John Rader

The dust and debris from the backpack blowers was so dense that it trickled down to the main lobby of Founders Hall. This haze filled up the first and second floors.

The Radnor Fire Department was able to dissipate the smoke in the building, and then coordinated with Cabrini officials to make sure that Founders Hall did not lose power.

“Considering we have been out here for over an hour, I am just hoping that I can get to go back to my office,” Christy Leigh, director of the Accessibility Resource Center, said.

This sense of confusion was palpable throughout the hundreds of students and faculty members watching the firefighters. Everyone assumed this time there was a legitimate fire, and not just another false alarm.

One can only hope that, moving forward, Founders Hall can enjoy the rest of its semester without any more alarms.

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John Rader

John Rader

My name is John “Jake” Rader and I am a senior here at Cabrini University. This is my second year being a part of the Loquitur, as I am the News Editor for this year's team. In addition to that, I am also in charge of managing the corrections page for the Loquitur. I have an avid passion for being on camera, and showing off my personality. My ultimate goal is to be a news or sports anchor, or doing sports broadcast work. I hope to continue to build my highlight reel this year with the Loquitur, and I have formally interned/blogged for Branded Sports.

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