BC teacher suspended after starting fire in classroom

Jun 17 2020, 11:50 am

A BC teacher who worked at a school district in the Okanagan was suspended and ultimately transferred to another school, after a blaze in his classroom caused $60,000 worth of damage.

In a decision released this week, the British Columbia Commissioner for Teacher Regulation (BCCTR) said the disciplinary outcome was the result of an incident that took place in February of 2018.

During one of his classes, science teacher David Allan Penner “conducted a demonstration” for his Grade 9 science class involving the decomposition process of ammonium dichromate by making a chemical volcano.

In the process of doing so, Penner failed to “review or follow” the safe handling guidelines of¬†ammonium dichromate and chromium oxide and did not follow official guidelines around their safe disposal, the BCCTR said.

Noting that the residue from the demonstration “should have been disposed of in one of the school’s hazardous waste containers, the BCCTR said that instead, Penner “used water to wet down the residue, wrapped it in paper towels, and threw it in the garbage in the classroom.”

And by doing this, “Penner did not consider the possibility that the residue contained unreduced amounts of an oxidizing chemical which was not sufficiently cooled down and which created a fire hazard when thrown in the garbage can,” the commissioner said.

The residue “reacted with garbage in the can, and several hours later, it started a fire $59,655.99 in damage.”

Penner was suspended for 10 days and transferred to a different school district, as a result of his actions.