In the morning of the 21st of November, the Bibliothèque de l’École Doctorale, located on Boulevard Saint-Germain took fire. There were minor injuries though no one was hospitalized.
The fire began at 9:35 AM when the single mother of a disabled Science Po student mistakenly reheated a ready-made meal without removing the plastic, setting ablaze the microwave. The fire then wildly spread among the bookshelves of the library, destroying most of the books, but more good than harm was done since the majority of those had preemptively been backed-up to the school’s network.
As the fire was spreading across the first and getting to the second floor of the building, some students from a nearby school named ECE took a different approach and decided to help as best as they could. One of them, Anaïs, had previously designed a smartphone application that would send an emergency signal to whoever was needed. In that case and with only a matter of seconds, firemen were called and sent the location of the accident. Another student, Phil, used the speakers from the building to gather everyone on each respective story, told them about where to find the extinguishers and ensured their comfort. The last ECE student on site, Jean-François, placed luminous and blinking thin stripes along the emergency exit and supervised the evacuation of the library. According to the firefighters, “their work made ours much easier and allowed for a quick rescue and first aid to those in need”. By 9:42 AM, everyone was out of the building.
We were accorded some time with each of the 3 students. We spoke to Phil first:
“We had to study for a project but our school doesn’t have any reliable political science books. Luckily the person in charge of the library agreed for us to come in the first place, otherwise I fear some of the people wouldn’t have made it out.”
“I would like to credit the coordination and respect the Science Po students had. Usually when we visit prestigious institutes we are shunned, disregarded, looked down upon.” Is what Anaïs had to say.
Jean-François kept it short: “I can now disprove my friend’s tendencies of saying my stripes were useless. The fire wasn’t the kind of Christmas decoration I expected to see today.”
The mother responsible for the accident felt ashamed but the institute decided not to press charges as they were persuaded by their own personnel to honor the ECE students instead.
After receiving them in his office, the director of Paris Institute of Political Studies, Frédéric Mion, also had a few words:
“I am very disappointed the books couldn’t be recovered. Granted, the content is saved on our computers but they had value as historic work. I have nothing but admiration for what the students did. From what I have heard everything went so well and smoothly it felt as an orchestra rehearsal. Their reactiveness saved us a lot of money and I will make sure any ECE students that wants to study law, or anything our institute covers has his chance. I here recognize the bravery of these 3 young persons. I admire the spontaneity and recklessness from those 3 people, who are truly brazen.”
By Nathan Lancman