Fire drills do not prepare for the real thing
If you were walking past Dow at about 10:15 today, you’d notice a few hundred people outside, and a few police and university vehicles. Those of us that were exiting the building assumed it was just a drill, so we took our time.
However, only a handful noticed that the alarm next to the door actually had been pulled, and heard the sirens approaching the building. When we got outside, there was no room to move. People were huddled next to the building outside the door. I had a good 50 to 75 people still behind me inside the building. A few students announced that we had to move farther, but we couldn’t. It was not until a faculty member came out and yelled at us to move 100 feet away from the building that people decided to move and make room for the others.
If this building were actually on fire, many people would have been trapped inside. If a lab had caught fire, only a small number of people would be aware. The rest would just assume it was a drill, and take their sweet time leaving the building. Today’s incident may have been someone pulling a prank, or there could have been a classroom on fire.
We go through so many fire drills from the time we are little, but few of us ever experience a scenario where we must escape a fire. People need to be aware that those alarms you are hearing may be for a real reason, not just a test. Use common sense when exiting a building — you’re probably not the last person to exit, and you ARE endangering someone’s life.