Lightning interceptors to be installed at South Row Elementary

Town of Chelmsford receives $70K from state for protection system after multiple strikes

CHELMSFORD, Massachusetts (February 1, 2024) – It’s rare that lightning strikes the same location twice. However, last year, South Row Elementary School in Chelmsford was struck by lightning twice in the span of just a couple weeks.

“The two most recent lightning storms occurred this past summer,” said Christine Clancy, Chelmsford’s director of public works. “We had just repaired the fire alarm system that was damaged from the lightning strike(s) and another storm came through and damaged the system again. The repairs to each instance cost several thousand dollars.”

South Row Elementary School Home Link

South Row Elementary School

Because the damages to South Row’s fire alarm system were not only expensive, but also created a serious safety issue, local officials began looking into possible solutions.

Ms. Clancy said the town consulted with a lightning protection vendor, who recommended installing two lightning interceptors on the roof of the school and grounded from the roof to the ground at four locations.

“The lightning protection system will allow lightning to hit the two towers and safely dissipate any charge from the lightning to the ground without damaging any school infrastructure,” she explained.

Funding for the project will be coming from the state.

On Monday, Jan. 22, State Representatives Simon Cataldo, Jim Arcerio and Rodney Elliott presented town and school officials with a check for $70,000 to cover the cost of the system installation.

“Chelmsford’s House legislative delegation worked to add this earmark to the state’s budget to keep the building and school community as safe as possible,” Rep. Cataldo shared on Facebook. “Grateful to everyone at Chelmsford Public Schools who makes this a place for our kids to learn and grow.”

Rep. Arciero said he, Rep. Cataldo and Rep. Elliott were happy to secure the funding in this year’s state budget following a request from Superintendent Dr. Jay Lang and Town Manager Paul Cohen.

“South Row Elementary School is in a very unique situation with a history of several lightning strikes,” he said. “This earmark will go towards keeping our students and staff safe in the building.”

Ms. Clancy said she expects the interceptors will be installed before summer.

About Chelmsford Public Schools

The Chelmsford Public School District provides all students with multiple pathways to optimize their own potential for academic excellence, leadership, and social and emotional wellness. The mission of the Chelmsford Public Schools is to educate, engage, prepare, and empower well-rounded and knowledgeable learners to PERSEVERE through challenges, demonstrate RESPECT and INTEGRITY in their words and actions, are DEDICATED to their community, and display EMPATHY as global citizens while discovering and pursuing their full potential.  This PRIDE-driven culture enables all members of the school community to support the growth and development of students.  For more information, please visit