Saturday, July 7, 2012

When Boston's Back Bay Went Dark

Fire Rages after a Transformer Explosion Fire Rages after a Transformer Explosion
The Newbury College Hub and The Boston Conservatory Public Safety team went into disaster mode when a large scale power outage took place after a transformer fire knocked out power that affected the city of Boston to include areas from China Town, South End, Back Bay, The Fenway and Kenmore Square.

An hour earlier a fire on Haviland Street and Massachusetts Avenue had already caused traffic gridlock along Massachusetts Ave and Boylston Street at the height of rush hour. An hour later the transformer explosion and subsequent fire placed the city in darkness and The Boston Police Unified Command Center and Emergency Services went into disaster modeto direct traffic patterns away from the city.

Due to concerns from the smoke being a possible health hazard evacuations started in the areas downwind. The Boston Architectural College was the first Longwood Security site to be evacuated led by Security Officer Robert Edwards under the direction of the Boston Fire Department. College Faculty, Staff and Students were directed toward the Charles River only to be re-directed again south toward Kenmore Square after the plume of smoke was headed in a northwesterly direction. Students at The Boston Conservatory were asked to shelter in place with windows shut. Recalls were made and additional officers were in place with in 45 minutes to insure students’ safety and that college assets were protected. Longwood Security provided 250 additional (above contract) hours of coverage during this emergency to insure a safe environment for those on campus.

One blessing, spring break was in place at The Boston Conservatory and only 50 international students were being housed at the time. Longwood Public Safety met with students in each residence hall along the Fenway to update and de-escalate concerns by those still on campus. Additional staffing continued from 7:00 pm Tuesday evening until 02:30 am Friday morning when an emergency generator was finally positioned to power the Fenway area.

As consistent with all Longwood Security Emergencies, Senior Management, Officers and College Emergency Management Team members worked in unison providing a comfort level to all those affected. Communication by radios and cell phones were the only way of passing updates overheard via radio transmission by The Boston Police which we monitor on our campus radio system.

As the Director of Public Safety I was proud to be part of this evolution and the accolades received for our “Extreme Customer Service” which was provided throughout the tireless event. Thank you to all who contributed numerous hours of extra coverage. Your dedication is sincerely appreciated.