The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, January 28, 2000


Gas leak at Carlisle School

Faulty gas regulators allowed gas to leak into the crowded Corey dining room on Monday night and force the evacuation of the Cub Scouts and parents attending the annual Pinewood Derby. Prompt response by supervisor of buildings and grounds David Flannery, who is also the fire department's deputy chief, avoided a potentially dangerous situation.

Flannery, who was at the school at the time attending a meeting, coordinated the response. In a telephone interview, he explained that he was first notified of the odor at about 8:30 p.m. by school committee chair David Dockterman who, as assistant cub master, was at the Pinewood Derby. The odor of gas was very strong outside of the buildings, Flannery said. The fire department and Boston Gas were called immediately, and the Corey Building was evacuated. Flannery found that although the leak was outside, gas was being pulled in and distributed through the Corey and Wilkins Buildings by the heating system. The heat was shut down to prevent further intake of gas.

The fire department arrived at 8:40 p.m. and stood by for hours to ensure safety. After at least three phone calls to the Boston Gas emergency number, a service man finally arrived at 10:30 p.m. and shut off the gas. He determined that the regulators had failed and were venting the gas into the air. The regulators reduce the pressure of the gas as it comes from the distribution line into the school, Flannery explained. Another Boston Gas crew was called to come to make the repair.

The repair crew was working at 1:30 a.m. and completed the replacement of the regulators by 2:30 a.m. They reported that the failed regulators looked about 20 years old and were very rusted. Flannery said he knows that the gas meter is changed every seven years, but he is not sure why the regulators were not changed also. He is looking into the regulations governing gas regulators, he said. Flannery got the furnace fired up and the school buildings back to normal by 3:30 a.m., just in time for the Tuesday snowstorm.

It was a scary situation for a while, Flannery said; the potential for an explosion and fire were real. He was glad that people were there to notice the leak before more gas got into the buildings and that it did not happen during the day when the buildings would have been full of children.

2000 The Carlisle Mosquito