It was a usual school day, nothing spectacular. I signed in as usual, then took my post in the school library where I have a desk to do my work. My library assistant came in about half an hour later, walked up the two little flights of steps leading to her little room at the far end of the library. Though I taught Science and Biology in the school, I was also put in charge of the school library, stocking over 4000 books.
A short while later, my assistant came out of her room complaining the presence of smoke. I could not find any reason for smoke to be there, but as I looked towards my left, I saw a small flame burning beside a wall fan at the far corner of the reading area of the library where I was seated.
My assistant, being an elderly person, did not realise the seriousness of the incident and just walked back to her room. For a moment, I was in a state of shock and suddenly I had to force myself to act fast. It was then that I saw a student outside the library and alerted him for help. He ran off without even an answer. I quickly plucked enough courage to use a wooden ruler to switch off the mains to the electrical connections.
There was only one way to save the situation. I have to grab the nearest fire extinguisher which hung just behind the wall where the burning fan was. Being a Science teacher, I had the theorectical knowledge on how to operate a fire extinguisher. Now was the time to apply that knowledge!!!!
I plucked the free end of my saree and tied it firmly round my waist. Then without a second to waste, I ran and unhooked the fire extinguisher from its spot, ran as fast as I could to the source of the fire, pulled the pin at the top of the fire extinguisher, aimed at the base of the fire and squeezed the lever to release the extinguisher agent. Then I began spraying the extinguisher agent along the electrical wiring connecting the fan. When all the extinguisher agent in the fire extinguisher was used up, I threw it on the floor and again took the wooden ruler to disconnect all switches to the electrical appliances in the library.
When all this was done, I was still not satisfied. I staggered back to the fan that was on fire to make sure the fire was completely extinguished. Thank God!!! All appeared fine but the place was a mess. My assistant came out of her room oblivious to the happenings earlier and I was surprised that she was still there all the while, not realising what would have happened to her if I had not saved the situation from turning into a towering inferno.
It was then too, that a group of students with their teachers in the neighbouring rooms came out wondering where the source of the smoke was, as all those rooms had the smoke alarms fitted as well, thanks to modern day fire fighting technology. All of them were in the dark regarding the risk they faced all this while. It was then that the teacher in charge of the fire fighting club came over to thank me while I was still in a daze and state of terror. All the students who witnessed the incident were horrified at the thought of the electrical fire and were amazed at my quick action. I was a hero for that day!!!!
( Of course the school’s principal came to thank me for my alertness and for saving him a lot of trouble. What would anyone else have done in my place? I still wonder till today.)