1. #26
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    Default School Drills

    I remember oh so well a fall day in the fourth grade. One of those cold dismall, overcast trying to rain and not snow late fall type of days. It was mid November and the fire alarm started to ring. The teacher glanced out the little window in the door as we got ready to walk-don't run, be quiet-don't talk and file outside. Why were we having a drill on such a lousy day?

    It wasn't a drill. The hallway decorations were on fire extending down the hall and up the wall. We exited the room, quick out the door sharp right and down the stairs. The fire was in the cross hallway just across from our room.

    The trucks came in a matter of minutes. Quick knockdown and cleanup. Some kid between classes had set off the holiday art work with a lighter. We all went back in and finished the day.

    Seventeen years later as a rookie I asked a bunch of the old timers if they remembered a hallway fire at the grade school. Pretty soon the stories about it were flowing pretty good. About ten minutes into it one them said "How'd you know about it?' When I told him fourth grade, Mrs. Swansons he muttered something about time to retire.

    The point is we had the required number of drills every year including finding alternate exits. The drills worked for us. We all got out and all ended well.

    Yes, you're damn right I beleive in fire drills.

    I think EDITH is a pretty smart practice too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by superchef
    Ok. Maybe I missed something NM. Please tell me what you ARE suggesting.
    If I read his first post correctly his main complaint is that the school just went through the motions making it pointless and possibly counter productive because a real emergency might be assumed to be another drill. NM is that your basic point?



    I wonder if any colleges include fire safety as part of the curriculum, seems reasonable to include some knowledge of historical assembly type tradegy fires such as the Our Lady of the angels, Lakeview Grammer school, Coconut Grove, Triangle Shirt Waist, Iroquis Theater etc I realize these are not all school related but they would give an idea of why we do fire drills, have panic hardware, don't lock exits etc. But considering that some of my recent firefighters don't really even know the specifics of the WTC let alone these other fires, I guess it would be too much to ask for Teaching programs to spend 4-6 hours out of the many years teachers spend in college to educate the future educators to be fire safe.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nmfire
    Like I said over and over, I'm not suggesting having no fire drills. I'm not denying what the books say and what the research says. I'm just telling you what the reality is in my personal experience.

    Trust me, your "personal experience" bears little resemblance to "reality".

    Blocking and locking fire exits has nothing to do with lying to students. Locking a fire exit while the school is occuppied is wrong.

    HS students are, for the most part, nitwits. At least in the common sense area.They have no right to know the "truth" if it is not their "nned to know".

    Have you noticed that you are alone on this one?

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    Gonzo,Bozz,Both are EXCELLENT aids.Problem is getting administration(top)to go along with it.When they enter the hall and find smoke,it certainly "spices"up the drill.Or "block" their favorite scheduled exit with a brightly painted carboard flame replica.Uh,what do I do now? Around here,if the HS gets dumped for a threat that's more than a chuck and duck,they get the busses in to keep the students warm and dry.Same goes for a "non drill"fire alarm.Good response Gonz,had a similar discussion with a few of our schools "brightest".I wonder if they'll EVER get it? And don't they cover any of this in history?Probably not,much too gory. T.C.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NonSurfinCaFF
    If I read his first post correctly his main complaint is that the school just went through the motions making it pointless and possibly counter productive because a real emergency might be assumed to be another drill. NM is that your basic point?
    More or less. They can do a billion drills and they always do them 1/2 way through a class period where everyone is already in their designated rooms and settled down. Never once during a lunch period. Never once between classes. Never once in the early morning just before classes start. Never once when there are gym classes going on. Never once after school during the extra curricular stuff. And there is no variation. It's just walk out the door, down the hall, outside. Period.

    And blocking the exits has everything to with it (blocking, not locking). I mean they used to drag large pieces of furniture in front of the doors. They even took the huge bike rack from outside in front and dragged it into the main entry so only one set of double doors could be used. I seem to recall them chaining one fire door also. Once they got wind the fire marshall was on the way down and he was ****ed, they started moving some of the barricades. They then lied to the fire marshall claiming we only said that because we wanted to cause trouble. Imagine their surprise when one of my friends pulled out a dated polaroid of what they had done. Administrators turned white as a ghost, fire marshal probably had steam coming out of his ears. It wasn't a pretty scene. They stopped barricading things after that. This is telling all of the students that they really don't care about fire safety. If the administration isn't taking it seriously, why should the students... more so how could they expect them to?

    George, if you don't mind having you intelligence insulted by the administrators, fine. But 800 other students and all their parents do care. Nobody expects them to tell us in the begining that it was actually a bomb threat. People would go nuts. But when you stand outside for over an hour freezing to death and the place is surrounded by police, don't treat us like we're dumb. We all know something was going on and don't like being blatently lied to just so everyone will think the place is just utopic and a model of perfection. So once again, they expect students to take fire safety seriously when the administration just blows us off and lies. At least the day someone claimed there was a bomb, they didn't have the exits chained and barricaded!

    I guess my gripe isn't so much the number of drills, but the lack of actually caring. There's been a lot of good suggestions on how to spice them up a little bit and make them more realistic. Here, they just do what the book says (maybe), no more and no less.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainGonzo
    It would be interesting to take a Rosco smoke machine into a school and smoke up an area to see how the students and teachers would react... not fill the area to the point of zero visiblity, but just enought to create a haze...
    I agree. We were fortunate enough to borrow a Fire Safety Trailer from a neighboring dept for our Fire Prevention program last month and it was an eye opener. Many of the kids came in all cool, giggling, joking, making fun of the props... you know standard grammar school age behavior.

    We gave them lecture on Fire Safety and general home safety, all of the things that everyone else covers. We then hit the remote on the smoke machine and theatrical smoke starting coming out of the walls into the room. For the older kids we added the science experiment part of watch it roll across the ceiling and work its way down to the floor.

    The eye opening part was the number of kids who were scared and in some cases reduced to tears. The 'funny' part is alot of them were the biggest jokesters when they came in.

    The smoke does add a totally different point of view for the kids (and teachers alike) however the work we had to do as far as covering the liability was a lot and it was for a controlled trailer not a wide open school building. With the kids with asthma, etc we had every child get a permission slip signed by a parent stating they did not have asthma and could participate. The principal even when as far as enclosing the MSDS of the smoke fluid with the permission slip.

    While nothing should be more important than protecting the lives of our children, its sad to say that the complacency factor is alive and well... especially amongst our school administrators and the extra work would not be welcome. Not saying thats right by any means, but its my observation dealing with our school education programs.

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    NFPA 101, The Life Safety Code sets the minimum standard for fire drills in educational occupanices. I beleive it's one per school month with an allowed deferrement for winter months. To go below this even where allowable would be a serious liabilty. As soon as some child was injured or worse the lawsuit would be huge based on the National Consensus Code being disregarded.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainGonzo
    It would be interesting to take a Rosco smoke machine into a school and smoke up an area to see how the students and teachers would react... not fill the area to the point of zero visiblity, but just enought to create a haze...
    Very intersting, but not too great of an idea. When we use our smoke machines and other propers for training we have all be through physicals and other screening to make sure we are up for it. You don't have that with kids and civilians, there is no telling who might have a panic attack or an asthmatic reaction.
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    Actually a great idea period.You're not filling the school like we do for smoke training.Just put it in a closet(like a janitorial closet)and let the closet weep some smoke. There isn't enough there to bother the asthmatic kids and it certainly will take the "ho-hum"out of a seemingly routine drill. We will often go into the schools during Fire prevention week and after the show and tell session we've been known to be the ones to set off a drill.That way it doesn't come at one of the usual preplanned times.The Super and sometimes the principal may know but that's it.We're now doing "burning bus"drills too with the smoke machines with pre screening of anybody that MIGHT be inclined to an asmathic reaction.The first year was a little rocky,but now the program runs pretty smoothly.The kids like the PPV too. T.C.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nmfire
    More or less. They can do a billion drills and they always do them 1/2 way through a class period where everyone is already in their designated rooms and settled down. Never once during a lunch period. Never once between classes. Never once in the early morning just before classes start. Never once when there are gym classes going on. Never once after school during the extra curricular stuff. And there is no variation. It's just walk out the door, down the hall, outside. Period.

    And blocking the exits has everything to with it (blocking, not locking). I mean they used to drag large pieces of furniture in front of the doors. They even took the huge bike rack from outside in front and dragged it into the main entry so only one set of double doors could be used. I seem to recall them chaining one fire door also. Once they got wind the fire marshall was on the way down and he was ****ed, they started moving some of the barricades. They then lied to the fire marshall claiming we only said that because we wanted to cause trouble. Imagine their surprise when one of my friends pulled out a dated polaroid of what they had done. Administrators turned white as a ghost, fire marshal probably had steam coming out of his ears. It wasn't a pretty scene. They stopped barricading things after that. This is telling all of the students that they really don't care about fire safety. If the administration isn't taking it seriously, why should the students... more so how could they expect them to?

    George, if you don't mind having you intelligence insulted by the administrators, fine. But 800 other students and all their parents do care. Nobody expects them to tell us in the begining that it was actually a bomb threat. People would go nuts. But when you stand outside for over an hour freezing to death and the place is surrounded by police, don't treat us like we're dumb. We all know something was going on and don't like being blatently lied to just so everyone will think the place is just utopic and a model of perfection. So once again, they expect students to take fire safety seriously when the administration just blows us off and lies. At least the day someone claimed there was a bomb, they didn't have the exits chained and barricaded!

    I guess my gripe isn't so much the number of drills, but the lack of actually caring. There's been a lot of good suggestions on how to spice them up a little bit and make them more realistic. Here, they just do what the book says (maybe), no more and no less.
    Your real world experience comes from being a dufus HS student. Mine comes from investigating multiple serious school fires (although I was once a dufus HS student, too... a long time ago). Have kids of HS age, get some life experience and I guarantee your perspective on this issue changes 180 degrees.

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    The law governing fire drills in schools just changed in Illinois.
    I'm guessing that there wouldn't have been a need for that had school districts made a good faith effort to conduct EFFECTIVE drills.
    Practice, practice, practice.
    One drill a year just isn't going to get it.
    Repetition.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DennisTheMenace
    Very intersting, but not too great of an idea. When we use our smoke machines and other propers for training we have all be through physicals and other screening to make sure we are up for it. You don't have that with kids and civilians, there is no telling who might have a panic attack or an asthmatic reaction.
    The student council smoked up a multi purpose room for Halloween worse than we ever have for a drill. And the way we found was..... alarm system activation
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeWendtCFI
    Your real world experience comes from being a dufus HS student. Mine comes from investigating multiple serious school fires (although I was once a dufus HS student, too... a long time ago). Have kids of HS age, get some life experience and I guarantee your perspective on this issue changes 180 degrees.
    Are you going to insult me or offer an intelligent response to everything I posted about in my last reply?
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nmfire
    Are you going to insult me or offer an intelligent response to everything I posted about in my last reply?
    First of all, get a sense of humor. I "insulted" myself too, in case you missed it.

    I have been trying to offer you intelligent advice. You have been offering all the insight a recent HS grad can offer. That is not an insult, it is reality.

    Go back and read this thread and look at all the insight that was given.

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    George, I know what your saying. However you haven't responded to any of points other than telling me I couldn't possibly know what I'm talking about. I don't need to be a certified investigator with the book memorized to know what went on in my school. Forget the number of drills. Thats really not my point anymore. It's the other concept of the school not taking anything seriously resulting in students not really giving a crap either.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    Never read the book, just what I have experienced in my little school system. There are drills regularly, almost twice a month without fail. In elementary school, my nieces room, the ceiling fan shorted out and started a fire in the ceiling. 1 student got up, walked over, pulled the pull box on the wall. The students lined up and calmly walked out of the room. All the students did as they have drilled - lined up, walked out, remained calm, most of them did not even know there was an actual fire until the trucks were showing up. Teachers checked their students and all reported in to front office staff that everyone was accounted for, just like they do in drills.

    Couple years later, small fire in high school. Alarms activated, kids lined up and walked out. Kids, in the classroom with the fire, comments "It was scary so we walked a little quicker", "That's why we have those stupid fire drills".

    IF your school has "less than adequate" fire drills, don't complain, step up and do something about it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bones42
    IF your school has "less than adequate" fire drills, don't complain, step up and do something about it.
    Heaven Forbid!!!
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    George touched on it with his post about the Navy SEALs and repetition being necessary for successful response to emergencies. The airlines (I looked briefly but could not find the website) have recently done some studies of the responses of the average airline passenger and found that a significant portion of any group will just sit and do nothing during the initial seconds of a disaster. They were studying the high death toll in a particular accident and found that significant number of people could have survived if they had just evacuated immediately.

    Sometimes these posts remind me of parts of my work that I need to pay more attention to. I believe I'll go check some school records
    Last edited by cowtown; 11-08-2005 at 09:42 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RspctFrmCalgary
    Here's an idea ... if 12 drills are required, why not have them at all different times of the day so they do cover the different classes kids would be in at any given time. If you always do the drills at the same time of day what happens during the real emergency when you are in the bathroom, library, gym, band/music room, drama room, chem lab etc.
    Oh, come on. That would make sense. Ours were only during our homeroom hour.

    Here's some of my personal experences in high school:

    There was a time when there was a oven fire in one of the kitchen classrooms. Everyone starts to leave, but then piles up at the door because noone can open it because of the amount of snow and ice piled up in front of it. Can you say 'panic'?

    On the senior's last day, there is usually a few pulled alarms. The school got tired of it so they decided to disable the system.

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    My mom used to teach in a high school, at one time they had a principal who would announce the fire drill 5 minutes before the drill took place so everyone would be ready. Even the teachers knew that was pretty stupid and defeated the point of the drill, luckily that principal didn't last very long (I think he was promoted ) .

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    Quote Originally Posted by nmfire
    . This is telling all of the students that they really don't care about fire safety. If the administration isn't taking it seriously, why should the students... more so how could they expect them to?
    I guess my gripe isn't so much the number of drills, but the lack of actually caring..
    If I may ask you a question NM? You said the administration did not care. Did you serve on any student councils when you were in high school? Did you approach this issue in a proactive way to the student council if you did not serve on one? Students are allowed to be proactive on issues that affect the student body. If that does not work, then you take it to the PTA.

    Your response is a reactive approach.

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    I had enough on my plate in high school already to take on the school board about fire drill practice. The barricade issue was too much to just shake our heads at so my friends and I dealt with it. Yea, I know... complain complain and not do anything about it. If I had to do it over again, hind sight being 20/20, perhaps I would have made more of an effort.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nmfire
    George, I know what your saying. However you haven't responded to any of points other than telling me I couldn't possibly know what I'm talking about. I don't need to be a certified investigator with the book memorized to know what went on in my school. Forget the number of drills. Thats really not my point anymore. It's the other concept of the school not taking anything seriously resulting in students not really giving a crap either.
    I'm not answering you because it has absolutely nothing to do with this thread. This thread is about school fire drills. You said, "Forget the number of drills". As far as I am concerned, whatever you say after this is irrelevant.

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    Thumbs down

    Its not just schools. I cant recall how many time weve been to restaurants, bars, stores and the like for reports of oders or smoke. They dont evacuate. They pitch a fit when we clear out the place.

    Bottom line is, people just dont take fire safety seriously in this country.

    As for the drills, they should have them at least once a month. I recall when I was a pup we had fire drills, tornado drills, air raid drills. Nobody ever complained.
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    Default Pardon the interruption...

    I cant recall how many time weve been to restaurants, bars, stores and the like for reports of oders or smoke. They dont evacuate.
    We have a hotel in town that in the 6 years since it opened, has never had anyone evacuate when the alarm sounds (which is almost bi-weekly). Yesterday, the alarm went off (they just installed ANOTHER new system) and for the first time ever, the building was at least partially evacuated. Reason being, the new system is so LOUD, people can't stand it. I was shocked.

    Ok, back to the thread...
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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