March 26--MANATEE -- Singed dust has an acrid, hot smell that seems to indicate a deeper menace, perhaps a smouldering fire.
Apparently, that's what a worker thought at the Manatee County Sheriff's Office at 600 U.S. 301 Blvd. W at 11:15 a.m. today when he or she pulled a fire alarm.
It turns out there was no fire and the smell was normal, stemming from county maintenance staff working on the sheriff's office's heating, venting and air conditioning system, said Al Lobeto, Cedar Hammock Fire Rescue battalion chief.
But before Lobeto could give the "all clear" designation, 15 firefighters had raced to the scene in three fire engines from Cedar Hammock Fire Rescue.
There was also an EMS ambulance, a ladder truck from City of Bradenton Fire Department and a battalion chef's vehicle with an anxious Lobeto inside.
"We received a fire alarm for a structure fire and this is the regular response you automatically receive for that," Lobeto said. "The employee was absolutely correct in accessing that alarm pull station, however, because you just don't know. But it was just dust burning off when they turned on the heating element in the system on the first floor."
The fire alarm prompted the evacuation of all employees from the building for a short time, Lobeto said.
"It created the odor of smoke, but there wasn't any smoke or any fire," Lobeto said. "There was really no way of avoiding this. This HVAC system is an enclosed unit and when you turn it on, dust that has built up gets singed."
Copyright 2012 - The Bradenton Herald, Fla.