Fire alarms sounded on Thursday morning at Richer School, and it was extremely cold for students and staff to be outdoors without their coats. 

“The fire alarm did go off at 9:30,” confirms Wendy Bloomfield, chair of the Seine River School Board. “It was not planned, so everyone did have to go outside.” 

This happened while we were under an Extreme Cold Warning. Bloomfield says some teachers had returned to the school to grab some coats for students. 

She says they were outside for approximately 10 minutes, while teachers checked that everyone was evacuated, and then a two-to-three-minute walk to the Richer Young and Heart building. 

“It was cold, definitely,” says Bloomfield. “And there's maybe some kids that had some minor frostbite, but they were able to get off site quickly and when the fire department gave the all-clear, students were bussed back to school.” 

She notes this was not a planned fire drill. 

“If the fire alarm goes off and it's not a planned drill, they evacuate to another off-site location and the fire department is called. There's no ifs, ands or buts. They suspected it was a faulty sensor, but who's to know? So, it's assuming there's a fire in the school, and they move of- site immediately.” 

Bloomfield notes parents and caregivers were quickly advised of the situation via email, and the school principal is checking into the event to make sure everyone at school responded appropriately to the unexpected fire alarms. 

“I think that the school responded quite appropriately,” she adds. “And the first rule is to get the kids out of there. They're not in a position to assess whether this is a real fire or not.” 

Bloomfield does have some safety concerns about staff who returned to the school to get coats from inside while the alarms were sounding.