Tag Archives: fire drills

Office Survival Tip: Fire Drills

9 Jan

Office Survival Tip: Fire Drills

For starters, just to clarify, this is not figurative fire drill I’m talking about. Not the “fire drill” where some idea floats through your bosses head that a particular project/deadline/favor to the VP is of Utmost Importance and everyone must drop everything to assist in getting it done?

No, I’m talking about the real fire drills here. The ones where you’re sitting quietly at your desk widgeting, when your reality is suddenly shattered by the repeated eardrum implosion that is the office fire alarm. I’m not sure why fire alarms are about 50 decibels above the appropriate alarm sound level for an office, but they are. For the amount of noise that fire alarm puts out, you’d think cubical patches were spaced intermittently around heavy machinery and factory shop floors.

Regardless,though your animal instinct may interpret the meteoric screeching of the fire alarm as a sign to panic, its important to keep your head and don’t panic. If you happen to work in or near a factory (thereby quashing my previous dig at alarm decibels, thanks), now is an appropriate time for your earplugs. If you don’t, wadded up bits of paper or kleenex are passable substitutions. I only say this because If you’re not situated immeidiately beside an emergency exit, chances are you’re going to be in that building for a minute.

I believe this is due to people putting a little too much emphasis on the word “calmly” in the instructions  “don’t panic and proceed calmly to your nearest emergency exit”.

I would like to make a point here, that “calmly” does not necessarily equate to “walking as slowly as possible” . In fact, in case of a real fire this would probably be incredibly un-beneficial. No, “calmly” merely means don’t go screaming and flailing down the hallway, knocking people down to escape the flames and/or eardrum implosion. I promise its not an oxymoron.  You can still walk quickly and be calm.

Of course this is compounded by the issue that despite the “emergency” part of “emergency exit” there’s only one or two in a building, regardless of how many floors or how spread out it might be. I believe my expert grasp of Supply Chain terminology would describe this as an “emergency bottleneck”.

And if your office happens to have a turnstile, I’m sorry. There’s not much you can now do but grit your teeth and try not to let the death siren drive you to rash actions like driving your pen into the deltoid of the man waiting in line ahead of you.