Broken belt summons firefighters to school

BRIDGEPORT — A late-night incident at the Bridgeport Exempted Village Schools complex caused employees to contact local fire departments but there was no damage to the building, officials said.

Members of several area fire departments responded to the location around 9:30 p.m. Monday, after janitors working late in the building detected the smell of smoke. Robert Conaway, the assistant fire chief for the Wolfhurst Volunteer Fire Department, said the janitors discovered the smell of burning rubber and a “haze of smoke” in a mechanical room in the school and called the fire department. Firefighters from the Wolfhurst, Bridgeport and Brookside volunteer fire departments responded, as well as the Cumberland Trail Fire District.

Conaway said that upon entering the building, firefighters found that the burning smell and the smoke had been caused by a broken belt connected to an HVAC unit in the room. When the main coupler of the unit broke, the heat caused the burning rubber smell and a small amount of smoke.

Conaway said the firefighters cleared the rest of the building and determined there was no damage or fire. He said that before responders left the scene, school personnel were already working to repair the damage.

Superintendent Zac Shutler said Tuesday morning that the incident had not affected the school schedule in any way, and classes were meeting as normal. Employees of the school district had already repaired the belt before class started Tuesday.

He said that although there was no damage to the school from the incident, he was thankful for the quick thinking of the janitors and the response of the fire departments.

“I’m glad our custodians did the right thing to be safe and called the fire department,” Shutler said.