BETTER SAFE THAN SORRY: Emergency workers outside Lismore?s Conway Plaza with gym staff Suzanna Casson (centre left) and Joanne
BETTER SAFE THAN SORRY: Emergency workers outside Lismore?s Conway Plaza with gym staff Suzanna Casson (centre left) and Joanne

Lismore office building evacuated

By JANE GARDNER

ONLY minutes after beginning her shift at Curves gym in Lismore, manager Joanne Cox became the lycra-clad hero of Conway Plaza.

A fluorescent light bulb in the women's gym blew out and the room filled with a pungent chemical odour.

"There was a strong chemical smell, like burning plastic," Ms Cox said.

"I could taste it in my mouth. I ran to the next offices and told them to get out."

Ms Cox and her colleague, Suzanna Casson, quickly alerted everyone in the adjoining offices on the top floor of the Conway Street building to get out.

There was only one client in the gym at the time. Offices evacuated included Wesley Uniting Employment, GIO Insurance and the NSW Probation and Parole office. Wesley Uniting manager Gary White praised Ms Cox for her quick reaction.

"She came running in saying there was a smell around the place and she had a funny taste in her mouth," he said.

"I was half-way through a report, but it's better to be safe than sorry!"

People didn't appear to mind the early morning tea break and stood downstairs chatting as two firefighting teams from Lismore and Goonellabah investigated while paramedics and police stood by.

Firefighter Konrad Sawczynski said Ms Cox acted properly. "You can tell your landlord you did the right thing," he told her, after firefighters inspected the building.

"It appears there is an electrical problem with the air-conditioning and not the lights."

After about an hour, firefighters deemed the building safe to re-enter.

The acrid smell remained in the gym and Ms Cox was advised to keep clients away for the next hour.

Paramedics stood by just in case any ill-effects were felt by anyone in the building, but the power malfunction turned out to be harmless.

A maintenance person was called in to investigate why the air-conditioning unit malfunctioned.



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