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Fire-Free Drill

A shrill bell cut through storytime. The kids crouched, whimpering. They knew they were to stay on the carpet during story, but that bell had them covering their ears and straining to flee! Calmly, softly, we repeated, “Don’t be afraid. Hold my hand. Line up. We’re safe.” And anything else that seemed might keep them from bolting like frightened sheep.

We walked single file out to the fence, where we stood facing the school. Ms. Jewls explained that it was a fire alarm and that we were just practicing. We all assured kids they were safe, and calm prevailed. We waited in a quiet group until the all clear sounded and we could return to our class.

As we were walking back Kevin, one of the kids who needed extra reassurance and explanation, grabbed my hand and said, “Bud I wanned t’ see da fire!” I told him there wasn’t really a fire, that this was just practice in case there was a real fire. Kevin responded, “I nebber gets to has any funs.”

Quilly is the pseudonym of Charlene L. Amsden, who lives on The Big Island in Hawaii. When she is not hanging out with Amoeba, she is likely teaching or sewing. Or she could be cooking, taking photographs, or even writing. But if she's not doing any of that, she's probably on Facebook or tinkering with her blog.


  1. aww…fire drills. I remember one during chemistry class, that was a good day. I know kids have to practice this, but I always wondered how much it actually does…after 10 years at school, you were de-sensitized to that particular alarm bell, since it was never rewarded with an actual fire.

  2. Awwww… he’s so cute! When I worked in the pre-school “specials” we always told them about the fire drill BEFORE it happened. We would go over how LOUD it was going to be especially because we had a few that would just totally FREAK OUT.

  3. Penguin — yes, I have heard a few fire alarms outside of school, and I always react to them with more curiosity then concern — except the time I pulled the fire alarm. I had lots of concern that day.

    Melli — that would mean you were told there would be a fire drill. We weren’t.

  4. life is still all about having fun for these kids, eh!
    that was cute but i wonder how efficient these fire drills really are…

  5. When I worked in the teen group home, we were warned that we needed to do a tornado drill. So we got all the girls together, did facials, and then yelled, “TORNADO DRILL!!!” They all had to go to the basement wearing their pajamas and face masks. ROFL!

    I guess I’m saying that you should hope the next fire drill happens right in the middle of fingerpainting. 😉

  6. Polona — well, we have so many minutes to empty the school and be in our assigned locations. We almost always make it.

    Doug — you stay away from my classroom, young man! And give me those matches!

    Jill — kids are strange creatures.

    Brig — there was a fire drill once when I was in the bathroom. I decided I was just gonna burn and stayed there.

    Morgan — my thoughts exactly!

  7. Kat — school led fire drills are usually scheduled for periods in the day when most of the students are involved in non-critical (non-tested) activities. Fire dept. led fire drills can come at any time. Student lead fire alarms can be guaranteed to interrupt the puller’s least favorite activity.

  8. Well it sounds like a proper drill. I used to find it highly ironic that it would be common knowledge at our school exactly when there would be a drill. If you’ve planned to exit at that time, then it’s not a drill! A real fire doesn’t give you 24hrs warning!

    And Kevin can count himself lucky if he’s still innocent enough to think that watching a fire is fun. I live in a city where back-burning causes mass hysteria if the community hasn’t been forewarned. The wounds from five years ago are still very deep.

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