I was sitting at my desk the other day when all of a sudden a blaring alarm goes off, jolting me from my focus. I looked at my office mate and we realized that the fire alarm was going off. We couldn't smell anything burning or a fire at all for that matter, but I work in a building with 10 floors. My floor didn't have to be the lucky one to have the fire.
So we joined our fellow coworkers on the long trek down the stairs (remember: you're never supposed use an elevator in case of an emergency). As we headed out of the stairwell, I noticed a young guy hanging around the inside of the building. I was confused, because he was making no moves to leave. Heading towards the door, security had reached the guy and was loudly encouraging him to join us outside where it would be safe. The guy began to argue with security, because he didn't see the reason why he had to go outside for what he thought was a fire drill. Suffice it to say he joined us outside. I still don't know if what happened was a drill or if someone burned popcorn, but I know that TPTB and security did their jobs and got us out quickly and safely. I assumed everyone knew how to act during a fire drill, but I guess not.
In the case of an emergency do follow the instructions and guidance of your company and/or fire marshal. Do not stay in your office or hide somewhere in the building. Do not make the jobs of first responders and security personnel more difficult. They have a tough job already making sure everyone is safe. If nothing else, you are putting them in danger by making them look for you unnecessarily when you should be outside.
Fire drills are necessary and should be practiced occasionally. They are practiced in schools, colleges, and even the work place. In fact, you should have fire drills in your home. I remember watching the Cosby show episode, “Mother May I“ (Season 3, episode 5) where Theo Huxtable becomes safety conscious and puts together a fire drill for his family. “Mother May I,”a great episode (for that and other reasons) is now available on Hulu as of this post. Basically, you should know what to do when you hear a fire alarm wherever you are.
- Take the alarm seriously.
- Walk, do not run to the nearest exit.
- Do not take time to grab all of your belongings (i.e. computer, iPad, Surface, etc…). Stop what you are doing and proceed to the exit.
- Move a safe (yet significant) distance away from the building.
You ought to know: Take fire alarms seriously and do not stay in the building.