The Inconvenience of Fire Drills

By Grace Li

Fire drills have been a part of every student’s typical routine at UNIS for years. But I think we can all agree that these state-mandated exercises are a real inconvenience to the UNIS community.

I first began to think of fire drills this way when the location of where they took place changed a few months ago. Originally, all the students and faculty would exit the school together and walk up to the Solar 1 building in Stuyvesant Cove Park. After 10 to 15 minutes of waiting with advisories, everybody would head back to UNIS. The fire drills as a whole took approximately 25 minutes. However, in the last few months, the Tut House fire drill location has been moved to the Asser Levy Recreation Center, a few blocks away from the UNIS building. This location is further away from Solar 1, which means it takes more time to get there. Now, fire drills take around 35 minutes. As a result, more class time is missed now than it was when our location was at Solar 1. This is problematic because teachers have a large amount of material they need to cover in a limited amount of time. Therefore, when half a class or more is taken up by a fire drill, the time they have to go over what we need to know is drastically decreased. This evidently also causes a disadvantage to the students, as they won’t have enough time to learn the material.

In addition to the increased amount of time a fire drill now takes up, I’ve also realized that they aren’t scheduled accordingly. For example, just a few weeks ago, I was sitting in my chemistry class taking a test. Ten minutes into our test, the fire alarm goes off, and everybody had to stop testing in order to participate in the drill. The teacher, as well as the students were all extremely irritated by this interruption. The teacher had to take an extra lesson to make up for the test, when that class should have been used to teach.

Furthermore, there have also been some fire drills this year that were scheduled at lunch time. Many upperclassmen UNIS students have the privilege to leave campus for lunch. If a fire drill occurs during lunch, there will most likely be some students who aren’t in the building. As a result, they won’t be able to take part in the fire drill. This can be potentially dangerous in a real emergency, as these students won’t have the same exposure to the fire drill procedure as others are.

Fire drills are necessary to keep students and staff aware and knowledgeable about how to stay safe in a real fire. Despite this urgent need of fire drills, however, they have been serving as more of an inconvenience than an educational tool. The drills are taking up more class time because of the new location, and they are being scheduled at inappropriate times during the day. A solution to this can be to move the fire drill site back to the original place. Also, the administration should be more conscientious of when these drills take place by communicating with teachers, and by avoiding holding fire drills during lunch. This way, UNIS students and faculty can continue to have the necessary procedure, without interfering with their circumstances.