‘Children crossing’ sign with rifle and building in background

Faulty Water Heater Sends Schools Into Lockdown

  November 19, 2018

By Naomi Millán

Deferred maintenance created a scary situation for a community in North Carolina when noise from a malfunctioning water heater at a local high school sent the district into lockdown after the sounds were mistaken for gunfire.

Pender County law enforcement received reports of an active shooter at Topsail High School on the morning of Nov. 9. All schools on the east side of the county went into lockdown. Officers swept the school and found no evidence of gunfire.

After being told of the faulty water heater, which was possibly damaged in Hurricane Florence in September according to one report and had been making noise for several days, the officers were able to recreate the noise, according to WECT News 6. The lockdown was lifted later that morning.

Two brief video clips from ABC News 11 feature the sounds which were reported as gunfire. The first video features the sound as heard from outside the school and the second from inside the mechanical room.

School officials say gas hitting a release valve in the water heater's combustion chamber caused the noise and sounded like gunshots, even to law enforcement as it echoed up the chimney, reported ABC News 11. The unit was repaired.

This Quick Read was submitted by Naomi Millán, senior editor, Building Operating Management. 


Read next on FacilitiesNet