Throughout the past couple weeks, multiple Drexel buildings have had fire drills during the day to make sure students, faculty and staff are prepared if a real fire ever occurs. However, after years of more frequent fire drills when we were in grade school, most students don’t know proper protocol and don’t take the drills seriously despite never knowing with certainty if it’s a drill or the real thing.
A group of students learned the reality of fire alarms the evening of April 23 when a fire ripped through their rented townhouse on 36th and Spring Garden streets. The fire forced residents of the block to evacuate their homes in case the fire continued to spread along the row of houses.
Some of us were around for the April 23 fire drill at the Creese Student Center and MacAlister Hall, and we were concerned at how disorderly it looked. It appeared that students didn’t know where to exit the building or what to do once they had left the building. Many students protested evacuating the building, assuming the alarm was false and that everything would go back to normal within a few minutes. Staying behind in a building while an alarm is sounding should never be a thought that crosses any student’s mind. As students were exiting the building, not everyone was paying attention to their surroundings, as exemplified by students using their mobile devices while walking down the staircase in MacAlister. They were posing a threat not only to themselves but also to others around them. They could easily have missed a step by not paying attention and risked hurting the dozens of students around them.
Once everyone was out of the building, students stood along the sidewalk despite Public Safety officers’ directions to cross the street. If they’re telling you to cross the street, don’t just stand there waiting to jaywalk through oncoming traffic. Walk down to either of the designated crosswalks along Chestnut Street. While jaywalking may be the shortest route to cross the street, doing so puts one in a potentially dangerous situation, especially because drivers may not be aware you are participating in a fire drill. They won’t be any more or less sympathetic.
Yes, fire drills are annoying, but we still need to follow proper procedure not only for safety reasons but also so administrators and Public Safety can determine if the building’s evacuation plan is effective. However, even with routine fire drills, it’s impossible for all students to practice evacuating in each of Drexel’s buildings. Students should always take it upon themselves to know at least two ways to exit any building they’re in, both on campus and elsewhere.