Ruptured gas line gives students unexpected lesson
By SUZANNE MOORE News Editor | Oct 12, 2017
MALONE — A gas-line break prompted evacuation of North Franklin Educational Center Friday afternoon.
The school’s heavy-equipment-operations class was working on installing conduit just west of the building when an excavator struck a gas line, Franklin-Essex-Hamilton BOCES Superintendent Stephen Shafer said.
A student was not operating the machine at the time, he noted, and all protocols had been followed before digging, including having Enbridge St. Lawrence Gas mark the location of any lines.
“But they failed to mark an additional one,” Shafer said. “Once the line was struck, our staff could immediately smell gas … and got the students out of the area.”
The fire alarms were not used to empty the building of the 270 students and about 100 staff members, he continued, because they would have exited from all directions.
Instead, staff moved students to the north exit, away from the gas leak, and they headed to Harrison Gym on the nearby Franklin Academy grounds at Malone Central School.
“The students were excellent,” Shafer said. “I couldn’t be prouder of our staff — they did a terrific job.”
Shortly before 1:30 p.m., Franklin County Dispatch called Malone Callfiremen to 23 Huskie Lane.
Bangor Volunteer Fire Department stood by at Malone’s station. And Enbridge shut off the gas to the 1/4-inch line.
Fire police set up at State Street, College Avenue and Huskie Lane for traffic control; Malone Village Police also responded.
Malone Callfiremen was back in service at 2:57 p.m., Franklin County Dispatch said. Soon afterwards, natural gas was restored to the Educational Center, but the Malone Central School Transportation Facility still did not have service.
The work that ruptured the gas line is installing fiber-optic cable between North Franklin Educational Center and the Malone Civic Center so Wi-Fi is available there.
Ironically, Shafer said, the reason for doing so is that Civic Center is a secondary evacuation site for the school.
He expressed appreciation to the police and emergency responders for their efforts, noting safety planning with those entities proved its worth.
And the gas leak, Shafer added, provided an unexpected lesson for the heavy-equipment-operation students.
“Maybe not how we would have designed it,” he said, “but a valuable learning experience.”
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