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The Student News Site of Hickman High School

Purple and Gold News

The Student News Site of Hickman High School

Purple and Gold News

Math hall heroes

Quick thinking from students and staff extinguish fire
Michael Westcott looks at burning paper towels from the trash can in the boys’ bathroom on Feb. 8. Picture acquired from Hannah Mayfield (12).

A fire broke out in a trash can in the boys’ bathroom by the South Entrance before school on February 9. Due to the fast thinking of students and staff, no property was damaged and no one was injured.


Sophomore John Slight was the student who first saw the fire in the bathroom.


After working on geometry before school, John walked into the bathroom and “there was just a fire.”


John and a substitute teacher then told math teacher Mr. Michael Westcott.


Westcott “went in and grabbed the trash can” according to John.


From Westcott’s perspective, he was told of the fire and then went to check it out.


“I went in and I wasn’t expecting anything. [But] the trashcan was full of flames. It was a55 gallons of flames,” Westcott said.


Westcott wasn’t sure what to do next.


“There was no fire extinguisher in there and no stomping and no amount of water was going to put it out.”


So, he grabbed the trash can, brought it outside, and turned it upside down.


“I debated on whether I should let it smother or kick the trash can off because I wanted to smother it, but trash can was…pretty thin and was losing its integrity,” Westcott explained.


The burned patch of grass outside of the South Entrance. The patch burned due to a paper towel that was on fire according to Michael Merz.

Due to the degradation of the trash can, Westcott decided to take the trash can off of the fire and stomp it out.


Career Center teacher Michael Merz saw Mr. Westcott and went out to help him.


“I was sitting in my desk in CASA when I saw Mr. Westcott walk out of the main building, holding a giant trash can. Flames were coming out of it, [and] he walked down the stairs and dumped the trashcan, which was full of paper towels that were on fire,” Merz said.


Merz knew exactly what to do next, though.


“I grabbed a fire extinguisher…[I] went outside. We put the fire out. And then we stomped on the paper towels that were blowing around in the wind,” Merz explained.


Merz had a very clear goal in mind during the incident.


“All we could do was try to prevent the fire from getting worse and try to help out,” Merz said.



While no one was injured in the fire, many had questions as to why the fire alarms didn’t sound.


“I know we have drills, and they go off for kids vaping in the bathroom, so I don’t know why they didn’t go off since it was pretty smoky,” Westcott said.


Merz had some thoughts on why this may have been the case.


“[It] depends on the fire system. Some fire systems will do flame, heat and smoke. So it may not have been enough to trigger [the alarm],” Merz hypothesized.


Fire alarms or not, Hickman is lucky for Westcott’s quick thinking.


“The fire was probably better outside than inside,” he remarked.

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  • M

    Meredith StoneFeb 28, 2024 at 10:02 am

    I think it’s crazy that the fire alarm didn’t go off and it was interesting to hear a possibility of why it didn’t go off.

  • L

    Lillian McCormackFeb 28, 2024 at 10:02 am

    I loved this article it’s very well written. It’s crazy that the fire alarm didn’t go off I’m so glad it got reported.