Remembering Fire Drills In School

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When we were in school, all grades of school, Fire Drills were a common practice. Those red domed bells would ring loud and clear and we were told to calmly, yet quickly, go outside single file and stand in a line away from the school building. Those bells, back in the day, were startling. And in those narrow halls, echoed them, making them completely deafening.

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Depending on what class we were in, would determine which doors we would exit. Sometimes we stood at the flagpole, other times the parking lot, and in elementary school, it was always the playground.

I recall the rebel kids pulling the alarms in order to get out of class. But when I was a kid, it was easy to set off the alarm. It was just the pull of a handle or taking a unlocked plastic cover off a red button and wham!

I’m not going to lie, I actually pulled a false alarm once so I could skip out of class as well.  It was Senior year and it was a dare, which I proudly accepted. If I hadn’t done it right before the summer recess and had already been accepted into college, I would have been in BIG trouble. Detention would have been the nominal punishment. And suspension could have been the worser punishment.

For most of us, it was always nice to get a break from class! It was like recess. An absurd highlight of our school day(s). But, we weren’t supposed to talk so it was lots of loud whispers. We were supposed pay attention for directions and face one direction. Something else we never really did.

There were those beautiful days we wished we could stay out there forever, or at least for the rest of our class. But they weren’t always timed like that. The winter and rainy day drills were the worst! We always froze because we were outside without jackets, gloves, hats or scarves and getting wet or cold was inevitable. There were certain instances, during the winter or inclement weather days, we’d stay indoors for the drills, gathering in the same form, but in the auditorium or gymnasium.


For us, it was a fun time because we never thought of a real fire but rather a chance to meet our friends outside of the class room and to get a break from our lessons. We walked out in whatever we were wearing. There was no time to stop at our lockers and/or grab a coat or anything else we thought we needed. We would stand out there, along with our classmates, for however long it took until the teachers and principle gave us an “all clear”.

Fire drills were alarming, but never scary. At least not in my experiences. The scariest thing was when that ‘ding-ding-ding-ding’ from those bright red bells. You jumped in your seats and then jumped up to get ready to parade out to the school yard or wherever directed. What a nostalgic time.

Looking back, I do  think Fire Drills are a great way to prepare for an actual fire or emergency. However, I remember as a kid thinking, that a Fire Drill is only practice and there will never be a fire. It was a very calculated practice that timed our evacuation and measured and evaluated the procedures necessary in case there were ever a true emergency. Looking back, these drills are definitely things that have made me astute to real life situations and how I might handle myself in one. I am thankful that I personally have never had to utilize any of the drills (from fire, bomb, nuclear, duck and covers, tornado, earthquake, hurricane, lock down drills, etc…) we learned in school, but there are those that I am sure have had to and I am glad this, as well as all the others, got this mandatory training for whatever obstacles might come our way.

What do you have that you can contribute to this story? Please share your comments, stories and memories in the comment section below.

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