No more fire drills, we know the drill

Amanda Gonzalez

Chances are that at some point before attending St. Edward’s University, you’ve been through a fire drill — or maybe even 20.

The sirens wail, the lights flash, a loud voice calmly directs you out of the building. You know the drill.

Having fire drills in an educational setting has become routine. In fact, schools are encouraged  to participate in fire drills; failure to have fire drills could lead to a reduction in community fire insurance rates, according to the Texas Department of Insurance October is National Fire Prevention Month, and St. Edward’s is no exception.

The Hunt, LeMans and Johnson Hall area had a fire drill on Oct. 28 shortly before 7 p.m..

While being interrupted from studies or fixing dinner, students proceeded grumpily down the stairs and out the designated exits.

The first question on everyone’s mind: This is just a drill, right?

Our generation has been so overexposed to practicing fire drills that we almost rule out the possibility that there could ever be an actual serious reason for having to evacuate the building.

This is a problem! What if there were to be a real fire in a residence hall and students were to stay in their rooms because they thought it was a drill? Smoke inhalation is the real killer, so there’s good reason why this should be concerning.

Additionally, if there’s anything that this school year has taught us, it is that fires can in fact happen on campus, such as the fire that was intentionally set in the Fine Arts Building on Sept. 24.

 There’s one key difference between the two scenarios.

The fire drill was scheduled during the relaxed hours of the day where students have to leave their room, lock the door, walk outside and stand in a distant huddle until cleared to go back in.  

The real life fire situation that happened on campus, was more chaotic because St. Edward’s doesn’t typically schedule fire drills during class hours.

The idea of having fire drills originated from a tragic school fire in Chicago in 1958 where there were no emergency procedures or evacuation routes. Since then, there was reform to prevent similar tragedies in schools across the nation.

But in the present day — with annual building inspections and fire safety regulations — the chance of severe fires are highly unlikely.

As the daughter of a former volunteer firefighter, I understand that fire drills are important to teach younger children to stay calm and know what to do in case of an emergency. But for college students, fire drills are a waste of time.

Fire drills should be nationally abolished from happening randomly in upper-level education and work-force settings. Maybe during orientation there could be a fire protocol discussion. This way, people would still know what to do in case of an emergency and not have to waste time with a drill later throughout the busy school year.