Firefighters respond to smoke on 3rd floor, Jockey Hollow students evacuate safely

Firefighters responded to the call of smoke and a burning odor on the third floor of Jockey Hollow Middle School Friday afternoon. Monroe Volunteer Fire Department photo

MONROE, CT — Smoke and a burning smell came from the third floor of Jockey Hollow Middle School Friday afternoon. Students and staff evacuated the building as firefighters responded to the emergency call, working with custodians to trace the origin of the smoke to a malfunctioning HVAC unit on the rooftop.

“We commend the students, faculty, staff and SRO for handling this incident and the evacuation in a calm, timely and orderly manner,” Monroe Fire Chief Kevin Catalano said.

“I’m incredibly thankful for the administration and every member of the Jockey Hollow faculty who worked together to make a very difficult situation much less stressful,” Superintendent of Schools Joseph Kobza said Saturday. “Everyone pitched in to ensure that all students were calm and safely dismissed in a timely fashion.”

“I also feel fortunate that we have such wonderful emergency services,” he added.

Kobza praised the response of Catalano, Fire Marshal William “Bill” Davin and the firefighters for their quick response and collaboration with school staff to identify the issue.

School officials determined it was prudent to dismiss the evacuated students early, according to Catalano.

Monroe Volunteer Fire Department photo

“I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank All Star Transportation as well,” Kobza said of the bus company. “We quickly had to change dismissal plans, which impacted bus runs at all schools. The team at All Star was able to deal with a very unusual dismissal, but did so in the most efficient manner possible. All around … a huge team effort. I feel fortunate to work in a community where everyone gives selflessly in an emergency situation.”

The emergency call came in around 12:53 p.m. and within six minutes, Catalano, Monroe Deputy Fire Chief Joe McNellis, Davin, and an engine tanker staff with four firefighters were on the scene, according to Catalano, who said the students were already safely outside the building.

“An additional engine, two ladder trucks, a utility truck, tanker truck and deputy fire marshal arrived shortly thereafter to assist,” he said.

During the incident, Catalano said the Long Hill Volunteer Fire Department covered another fire call for an activated alarm on Senior Drive.

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