More than 3000 students and teachers were evacuated from Colchester Sixth Form College at lunchtime on Wednesday 23rd February after smoke was discovered in the art corridor. Thanks to the prompt removal of students and staff, no injuries were sustained. 

Lessons were disrupted as two fire crews were called out to investigate smoke on the third floor. The smoke interrupted many students’ tutorials in their tutor groups at around midday. As the alarm was triggered, students made their way out of their classrooms in an orderly fashion. Many waited outside the entrance of college in confusion as two fire engines arrived. There was much excitement as an aerial ladder was launched to inspect the roof of Southsite, triggering speculation amongst the students. The smoke was originally thought to be caused by a chimney leading up from the boilers in the art classrooms though this was later disproven.  

Lunchtime clubs did not go ahead as the investigation was taking place and lessons in the affected building did not resume until 2:00pm.

Following the incident Assistant Principal Graham Rayner thanked everyone for their patience. He confirmed that there was a smell of smoke in the art department, but the fire service found no obvious cause. Adding that both the boiler company which service the boilers and the Fire Department have signed off the building as safe for use after finding no evidence that the chimneys caused the smoke.

Maddie Stych, a student, saw “smoke on the third floor” as she was walking to her tutor base but “didn’t feel worried at all”. Whilst Maiana D’Souza said “at first I wasn’t worried because I’m used to fire alarms being drills however after we saw the fire engines we realised it was a lot more serious”.

Fortunately, the Southsite building sustained no damage, allowing students to return to lessons as normal from the following day.