A startling morning today for Berinba Primary students in Yass, after a gas leak on school grounds forced an emergency evacuation of all students and staff.

Gas leaks can pose a threat if the amount is enough to overcome through the dispersion of oxygen out of the area or fire hazard as a combustible.

Nick Whiting, Deputy Captain of the Yass 511 NSW Fire and Rescue team, praised the fast-acting of the school, his team and the avoidance of injury, saying;

“We were lucky they smelt it as soon as they did, and went through their evacuation procedure to get people away from the presence of gas.”

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Almost three hundred students were quickly moved from classes away from the main administration building and staffroom and marshalled on the grassed area on the Petit Street side of the school.

At 11:12 am the 511 crew arrived to find the school students already moved to safety. Five officers in total were deployed with two suiting-up to deal with the gas, donning breathing apparatus and protective gear. They were also armed with a gas detector, a small handheld device that monitors air levels, including oxygen and gases.

The gas was first smelt and noticed particularly strongly outside in the inner quad area, with this being an initial concern. However, upon attending the gas main outside the staffroom, they discovered a seal had failed.

The gas supplier was shortly contacted, with the leak suspended and under maintenance. The process was quick and efficient with Deputy
Deputy Captain Whiting summarising

“Everyone was evacuated, and we located it straight away, pretty straight forward you could say.”

After the team was certain of its suppression, the area was once again scanned using the handheld device, deeming whether it was safe to renter or relax caution. As with standard procedure, police and ambulances also responded.

As for the cause, no malicious intent was observed or is considered. NSW Fire & Rescue see this type of seal failure as a result of the extremes in temperature experienced in Yass.

There were no reports of anyone overcome with gas, confirming that this was a relatively minor leak and that protocols were followed. Classes resumed after the lunch break.

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The School updated its FaceBook Page with the event to assure parents that students were safe and children returned home at the usual time with news of the evacuation and extra games that were played while the emergency was underway.

Despite the scare factor associated with a gas leak, especially around young children, the community is fortunate for the effective response of Yass 511 Fire & Rescue crew and the timely action of the school staff.

This is the second public gas leak this week, with a Yass 511 Fire & Rescue crew responding to a leak at HRG Hardware.

Anybody who may be experiencing symptoms of gas leaks in their homes and buildings, whether it be a distinct odour, feeling unwell/nauseous or any changes in their appliances would benefit from contacting maintenance workers or their providers to be sure.

Griffin Palen