Haphazard Fire Drill Procedures at Tech

By Tahmid Ahmed

Brooklyn Tech is one of the biggest high schools in the United States, thereby allowing for countless academic, extracurricular, and social opportunities. But is Tech’s size a negative factor during an emergency?

An estimated 4,060 fires occurred in schools from 2007 to 2011, half of which were set intentionally. Due to the record number of fire-setting incidences, schools across the country are implementing evacuation programs for students and faculty to follow.

Fire drill procedures, in any school, typically involve the ringing of a bell, followed by students’ forming a line, walking out of classrooms, and exiting the school building.  Meanwhile, teachers take attendance to make sure no one is left behind.

However, this procedure is easier said than done.

During the first few fire drill evacuations this term, there wasn’t a chance for students from the sixth floor to make it safely outside when compared to students located on lower floors.

But shouldn’t every student have the opportunity make it safely outside in a swift manner?

Saif Khalique ’15 says, “The fire drill evacuation is too slow because too many classes get out the same time.”

When leaving classrooms, the staircases tend to be very crowded. This takes up a lot of time when exiting the building. Students come from all directions, impeding others from making it outside quickly.

So, how might we go about fixing this?

Emilie Baser, an English teacher says, “Given the large population of our school, it is often difficult to keep track of students during fire drills and evacuation procedures. Accordingly, implementing a buddy system in the classroom is a functional vehicle to ensure that all students are accounted for.”

In this “buddy” system, a teacher would call out two students’ names and pair them up as buddies. Students would stay together at all times during the fire drill or evacuation.

If a buddy is absent, then the student would notify the teacher. In this way, taking attendance during the evacuation would not be as much of a hassle.

Another solution would be for Tech to provide fire escape stairwells.

Since Tech constructed out of brick, it is less likely that a fire would spread on the school’s outer surface. By implementing fire escape stairwells outside the school building, there would be less congestion during evacuations, and students would be able to exit safely.

This method is used in many NYC apartments.  Public schools could benefit from such stairwells, especially a school as large as Tech.


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