By Maya Smelser
The fire drill is a standard part of school life. Like most schools, we have one every month. Although it might just seem like a nice break from class, there’s actually a lot of thought that goes into it.
After the first few drills of this school year, Engineering Teacher John Kamal realized that the school has consistently taken a dangerously long amount of time to exit the building. From that, he had an idea.
Back at the old SLA building, the senior engineers redid the fire drill plan, as the times did not meet the requirements of the Philadelphia Fire Department. When Mr. Kamal saw how poor our times were earlier in the year, he and his engineering team volunteered to do the same in this building.
The engineers worked hard to create the new plan. “They printed out blueprints of the building and surveyed every room,” stated Mr. Kamal, who coached them through it, “they also reviewed the existing signage, compared it to the original plan, and then optimized the plan to address its current shortcomings.”
The initial plan had many faults and issues. Too many students were sent down the middle staircase and it accounted for rooms that had no people in them. “We hope that by systematically addressing each problem, we should be able to reduce the egress time significantly,” Mr. Kamal said. The goal of the updated plan is to have all students and staff out of the building in at least 4 minutes.
“I expect that the work that the engineers are doing will balance our exit plan so that our fire drills will be much smoother,” Principal Chris Lehmann said.