Fire alarm drills? Sometimes they're real, and that was the case Monday at Rancho Santa Margarita Intermediate, where where students were evacuated from a building twice.
According to Principal Dr. Richard Jameson, the unplanned fire alarm went off Monday morning about 9 a.m., and all students were evacuated to the track area; the plant foreman reset the alarm and, after it was determined there was no fire, students returned to classes.
About 10 minutes later, it was reported that a bad odor was coming from near the 100 Building, which houses seventh-grade students and science labs. Students from that building were again evacuated, the rest of the school was locked down and the Orange County Fire Authority called.
It was a foul odor all right: It was discovered that a burnt rubber smell was coming from an air conditioning unit on the roof that Jameson explained was caused by a belt that broke on the unit.
Jameson credited assistant principals John Bajorek and Dave Elkins, and plant foreman Joe Aguirre, for their roles in the evacuation and discovery.
Teachers and students were reassigned for the remainder of Period 2 and everything returned to normal after the snack period.
"I appreciate how well students and staff handled the alarm and then the evacuation of the 100-building," Jameson said. "Kudos, as well, to Mr. Bajorek for having us prepared for these situations, to our plant foreman, and to the office and administrative staff for implementing our emergency procedures effectively.
"The Fire Department responded promptly and checked out and cleared the building in a matter of minutes. Our students are in good hands."