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Smoke Condition Evacuates Catholic Charities

Building has been deemed safe for re-entry, but currently has no fire protection.

Catholic Charities, on Route 22, was evacuated Wednesday after a fire alarm went off, and a report was made of smoke in the mechanical room, according to North Branch Volunteer Fire Chief Dave Hickson.

Hickson said the building manager of Catholic Charities told him that he had gone into the mechanical room to check the fire panel after the smoke alarm went off around 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, and saw smoke coming from the panel.

"Our standard procedure for smoke in a building is a full first alarm assignment, which brings us Green Knoll and Country Hills Fire for a full response along with Bradley Gardens Fire for their specialized Rapid Intervention Team," Hickson said.

Hickson said the team saw the smoke, and found that the area of the fire alarm panel was hot, utilizing a thermal image camera.

"The crew isolated the cause of the smoke and disabled power to the panel," he said.

In the meantime, Hickson said, other crews began checking the second floor of the building for an extension of the smoke or fire.

"None was found," he said. "The building was deemed safe for re-entry and the scene was turned over to the fire officials office for investigation."

At the time the units cleared the scene, Hickson said, the cause of the malfunction at the fire alarm panel was unknown.

"The only problem when we left is that the building now has no fire protection," he said. "The building manager was dispatching their fire alarm service provider to make necessary repairs to the system."

But, Hickson said, the building can currently be used.

Units on scene were North Branch, Green Knoll, Country Hills, Bradley Gardens Fire, Bridgewater Township Police Department, Green Knoll Rescue Squad and the Bridgewater Fire Official.

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