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Realistic Fire Drills

Safety role-playing
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The building housing the company for which I work had a fire drill the other day. I concluded that, were there a real fire we would sustain awful casualties. We were warned far in advance that it would take place, so we had bags and coats in hand and some of us left early. Some of us had different ideas of where to go and had no back-up plan in case that option was blocked. Some people were even moving UP the stair wells as the alarm rang.

What I propose is a group that helps even the largest buildings stage realistic fire drills. There would be little or no warning, first of all, except for basic instructions. Second of all, as people began to evacuate, other people would mark special areas as being affected by fire and smoke. Those people who got too close to those areas would be marked as casualties and forced to sit down away from the rest of the evacuation, unless helped by others (who would also risk becoming casualties). All this would be monitored by security cameras and camera crews.

Later, tenants who did poorly could be forced to review the tapes and receive a lecture on proper behavior and panic-management techniques.

A full EMS team would be standing by to help anyone injured in the simulation.

centauri, Feb 27 2001

realistic http://www.dictiona...t.pl?term=realistic
"an awareness of things as they really are." i.e. unexpected rather than expected. [centauri, Feb 27 2001, last modified Oct 05 2004]

drill http://www.dictiona.../dict.pl?term=drill
"A task or exercise for teaching a skill or procedure by repetition." i.e. a drill IS a real drill. [centauri, Feb 27 2001, last modified Oct 05 2004]

pedantry http://www.dictiona...ct.pl?term=pedantry
"a[n] ostentatious and inappropriate display of learning." i.e. making corrections where none are required. [centauri, Feb 27 2001, last modified Oct 05 2004]

i.e. http://www.dictiona...n/dict.pl?term=i.e.
id est (that is) [centauri, Feb 27 2001, last modified Oct 05 2004]

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       I suspect that we've all observed the same behaviour that centauri has at some point, and possibly even been guilty of it to some extent. The problem as I see it is that the organisation runs it's own drills and word inevitably gets around if one is imminent. In the UK, we always have the Fire Brigade attending a drill so if they triggered the thing off remotely in the first place there wouldn't have to be any extra agencies involved at all.
DrBob, Feb 27 2001
  

       On a point of pedantry, wouldn't a 'Realistic' fire drill have to involve either a) real fire or b) real drills?
DrBob, Feb 27 2001
  

       In a word, DrBob, no.
centauri, Feb 27 2001
  

       With my corporation they do it randomly in the UK and they have started doing it randomly in France too. However the French drills are complicated by the need to make laptops and other valuables safe before you leave the area. Violations of fire drills (walking upstairs or back into the building before the all-clear) is a disciplinary offense. There is a debrief afterwards by the fire marshalls (co-worker volunteers) and the results of this are shared by email.   

       So (for European branchs of American corporations at least) it is baked.
Aristotle, Feb 27 2001
  

       I'd like to add that, the day after I posted this, the building was rocked by the Seattle Earthquake. Thank goodness there was no fire and no evacuation.
centauri, Jun 15 2001
  

       One afternoon two friends and I attempted to make a fire drill using materials found on a river bank in southern Oregon. We were unsuccessful at starting a fire, although we did get smoke and charring effects consistent with heat, and also some blisters and one bruised thumb consistent with masculine stupidity. Things learned: cedar was the most promising wood for the drills; alder the worst. Use a concave stone to anchor the top end of the drill. Don't put pitch or resin on the end of the drill. Always carry matches.
Dog Ed, Sep 22 2001
  

       During my time in the U.S. Navy, we would be subjected to unannounced drills. An important point, however, is that - once the alarm was sounded - an announcement was made that it was *only* a drill (so no one got hurt). An aspect of realism was added by having people stand in various places saying "Thick smoke" or "Fire" indicating that the passage or area wasn't passable.
phoenix, Sep 22 2001
  

       Having a truly realistic fire drill (i.e. completely unannounced with realistic smoke and heat in the area) could create unnecessary injuries or even possibly deaths - it's a really good idea, but I think the best situation we can hope for (which is not a perfect one) is to instill in everybody the proper procedure during an emergency, while not creating an emergency during the training itself.
MrJustin, Apr 23 2003
  

       Three experiences spring to mind:   

       Being woken up in the middle of the night and being forced to evacuate the building in 5 mins and stand in the freezing cold - or repeat the drill in subsequent weeks till everyone was acounted for. After the first time you remember to put shoes and a dressing gown on and then wake your neighbors.   

       Being shot in many exercises. Nothing tells you how unprepared you are for battle until you realize that you've never before survived the practice.   

       Evacuating a Tri-star cabin mock-up, looking for the doors in the (fake) smoke and poor light, finding the floor light trail to ... the blocked door... and then trying to move back past others trying to make it to the the same blocked door. And finally burning my wrists and elbows through friction on the evacuation slide.   

       [centauri] has a good idea in combining the three experiences. We all need to learn to think ahead, anticipate poor visabilty, have a backup escape plan, remember to get your friends to safety, and understand the importance of taking it all seriously through individual drills.   

       However, I believe you can, like I did, pick up these skills without combining all the craziness at once. In none of these above drills did anyone get seriously injured. Perhaps the degree of control offered therein contributed to safety without weakening the learning experience.
FloridaManatee, Apr 23 2003
  

       I remember when I was at school, we had a reasonably realistic fire drill. I, and another boy, were given the task of being fire on the main staircase. So, a couple of classes of children come down with their teachers:
Me: "Sorry sir, you can't come down here, I'm fire.
Teacher: "What do you mean?! This is preposterous, etc.!
Me: "But the headmaster said I wasn't to let anyone past"
(Teacher, grumbling, retreats back up stairs with class to the other staircase.)

(Of course, all this was said in Latin)
hippo, Apr 23 2003
  
      
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