You’re lying in your bed at around 9:30 am in that half-waking, half-sleeping state on the morning that you don’t have class until 11:30, trying to bring back that dream you were just having in which Dr. Zaius from Planet of the Apes revealed Michael Jackson’s death to be a giant hoax and then joined him onstage for a rendition of The Way You Make Me Feel, when suddenly, a blaring intermittent bleep comes shrieking down the hall accompanied by a flashing strobe-light attached to your own wall, completely driving away all the last dregs of sleep. Do you, A: leap out of bed, throw on some clothes, sprint out the door and down the stairs, line up with fellow dorm mates outside of the building and wait for flames to come shooting out of your window, or, B: pull your pillow over your head and curse under your breath until the friggen thing stops and you can return to sleep.
If you answered B, congratulations. So did everyone else. This is because all of us have experienced roughly 1000 fire drills in our lives, whether in middle school or college, while next to none of us have ever been in a fire. Now, I’m not trying to trivialize anyone’s losses due to a fire, or say that fire alarms should be dismantled because they are annoying. Instead, I am proposing that we abolish the fire drill.
The sheer volume of fire drills that have plagued my ears over the years has caused me to disregard fire alarms entirely. Gone is that childish query of whether or not the school is actually burning down this time. Instead I’m left to wonder if it was caused by burnt toast or if this is the third drill of the month. But I certainly wouldn’t assume that an actual fire set it off, because that just never happens. At least not statistically compared to the amount of the amount false alarms.
What is the purpose of the fire drill? I’m guessing that the State Fire Marshall would say it is to reinforce the procedures necessary for escaping a burning building. Now, I concede that fire drills have their place in our Elementary Schools, where getting children from point A to point B is like herding cats through a water park. But as college students I feel we have the facility to promptly and without incident remove ourselves from a burning building. We can read instructions regarding proper fire exits. We can walk without pushing our classmates. We can smell smoke. And most importantly, we know a three-word slogan that can save our lives should we catch fire. But so long as we behave like sensible adults and don’t attempt to run through the flames, this isn’t likely to happen.
Imagine a world where a fire alarm might actually send adrenaline rushing through your veins because you are most certain it actually signifies a fire. It might not seem so damn loud and annoying if it were saving your life. Until then, pass the earplugs, mate.