Odor Forces Evacuation of Ferris High School

14 Patients Evaluated, Normal School Operations Return After Two Hours

AC Brian Schaeffer #509-625-7002

Thursday, June 16, 2016 at 4:50 p.m.

From 6/10/2016: Ferris High School is evacuated after a reported odor disperses through the school. A total of 14 patients are evaluated. Emergency responders determine the odor was caused by moisture combining with a heater exchanger inside a school’s air handling system.

On 10:16 a.m. on June 10, 2016, the Spokane Fire Department responded to a reported odor inside Joel E. Ferris High School (3020 E. 37th Avenue). The entire school was evacuated and sheltered in place inside the school’s gym as emergency personnel investigated.

Building engineers and an air-handling contractor worked with firefighters to help in pinpointing the source and isolating the problem. After a thorough search and checking the atmosphere with special hazardous materials detection equipment, no indications of a toxic environment could be identified.

Several students and staff reported experiencing symptoms ranging from nausea to light-headedness. A total of 14 patients were evaluated by the school’s nursing staff and fire personnel. Most of the patients were treated and released at the scene, but a few were transported to the hospital by private vehicle.

After approximately two hours the scene was stabilized and school operations returned to normal with students and staff were allowed to re-enter the building.

The Hazardous Materials Team determined the musty odor originated from an area within the building’s air handling system possibly as a result of the morning’s rain. The moisture combined with a heat exchanger inside the system created the odor, which was dispersed throughout a large area of the school. The system will be non-operational until an inspection and repairs (if necessary) are completed.

This incident is another example of the collaborative relationship with area emergency responders as it was supported by Spokane Public Schools, Spokane County’s Fire District 8 and the City of Spokane’s Police and Fire Departments.