Mid-shower on a cold day, an alarm blares and flashing lights race across the room. These are the infamous fire drills that are supposed to catch students off guard.

It had been said that RAs write students up if they do not automatically leave, but I needed to get the soap off my body, and I refused to go out in the rainy weather with my awful cold.

I quickly finished my shower and threw on some clothes, hoping that the drill would stop and I would not need to leave my heated room. To my dismay, the drill continued. My ears were ringing and I could not see straight because of the blinding lights.

At this point, the drill had been occurring for over five minutes. I began to panic. What if this is a real fire? Being on the fourth floor, would I be able to get down in time? While dressing, I peeked out the window in search of fire trucks or smoke.

I rushed downstairs and literally ran into a fireman. Embarrassed and nervous, I rushed down the next flight of stairs to escape the building. It was obvious that I was the only one left inside. Of course, with my luck, as soon as I was outside of the building, the alarm stopped.

It was only a drill that continued for an extremely long time. I was lucky that my stubbornness did not cost me my life, but what about students that did lose their lives due to fires?

On Jan. 19, 2000, three students died and over 50 were injured at Seton Hall University in New Jersey when two students were involved in a prank that started a fire in a freshmen dorm. The local Fire Department claimed that it is a “difficult expectation placed on the small department to cover both the town and Seton Hall University.”

While Fairfield students dread the unexpected fire drills, I would much rather have to jump out of the shower than never be prepared.

The case of the Seton Hall fire confirms that fire drills are necessary and beneficial; however, many students assume that the annoying siren and flashing lights indicate a simple drill and are not the cause of an actual fire.

Should drills and legitimate fires be differentiated? Based on my experience and lack of urgency on the drill, I assume that a differentiation would be extremely helpful to a number of students.

While it is understandable that fire drills are to be unexpected so as to simulate an actual fire, a general warning would aid students in recognizing the difference between a serious fire and a drill.

These warnings could entail simple signs around a dorm stating, “Watch out for a fire drill in the next week!”

One could argue that a sign such as this would negate the urgency of a legitimate fire coincidentally occurring sometime during that week; however, while it is understandable that drills are necessary and should be taken seriously, to a certain degree, drills should be somewhat different from an actual fire.

These differences could be extremely subtle. They could be as simple as a five-minute time limit on a drill as opposed to the 15-minute drill I experienced. In addition, RAs could parade the halls a few minutes before, warning that there will be a drill and if students do not cooperate, they will be written up.

These differences seem fair while still maintaining the importance of practicing for an actual fire drill.

Most students can agree that Fairfield Public Safety and the Fire Marshall are acting in the best interest of the students. As a student, I am grateful that a tragedy like Seton Hall is being avoided in all possible ways at Fairfield University; however, a simple warning for fire drills would make campus life a little bit easier and alleviate some stress.

About The Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.