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Fire Drill Procedures Must Change

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The familiar buzz of the bell and the groan of a teacher in the middle of their class is something that many have grown accustomed to here at Pioneer. Fire drills are expected by many students, as they have most likely been performing them their entire life. However, the procedure of the fire drills must change in order to fully ensure the safety of students and staff, instead of simply walking outside like they are used to.

In the state of Michigan, a minimum of 5 fire drills are required throughout the school year for any school that operates any grade from kindergarten through 12th. It also states that one must be performed every month, however if weather does not permit then 3 must be held by December 1 and 2 more in the remainder of the school year. At Pioneer, we follow these rules and students shuffle out of the building while listening to the loud buzz of the fire alarm. Students chat with each other in a nonchalant manner, searching for their friends. Teachers tend to direct their students to the area they must exit to, whether it be the tennis courts, lawn, or near the forest, and follow in no rush once their door is locked. After the bell sounds to come back in, students find their way back to their classes and the day goes on as if nothing happened. This procedure has become very repetitive and not too effective to prepare students at Pioneer for a real situation. Although the only major fire to ever occur here at Pioneer was back in 1904, students and staff still must be able to act under the pressure of a real fire.

A way to further educate students on exactly what to do and where to go is to have class discussions on all the exits of the school and where to go if your class is near an exit that is unavailable due to the causes of a fire. These discussions can teach the students here at Pioneer on the safest and quickest routes to exit the building. Also, any students that may have questions that could benefit the entire class could speak up. The discussions could occur after a fire drill is performed and students could share their thoughts about what happened and how the school can execute these drills in the safest, most prepared way. Many students walk in and out of the building during a drill without even thinking about the situation in where a real fire may be happening and they could be in danger. These discussions could change those students’ thoughts and actions.

Another way to make students feel more confident in the situation of a real fire is to change the way the drills are performed. In a high pressure situation such as a fire inside of the building, students must be able to use skills to avoid any harm. However, these skills are not taught to them. Instead of having students simply walk out the exit they are told, they should be able to adjust to certain circumstances, such as an exit being blockaded, or even a stairway made unavailable to use due to the causes of the fire. During drills, certain situations could be communicated to the students, and they would have to react accordingly.

Many could argue that having these discussions or simulating specific circumstances in a drill is overkill and simply a waste of class time. Others may find the drills and discussions boring and useless. However, the safety of students and faculty must remain the top priority here at Pioneer, and our current system of fire drills is not ensuring that for many. Some do not even consider what they would do in the case of a real fire. We need to be better prepared for this occurrence so the students and staff can feel safe and prepared for a potential disaster.

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