How would things be if Walmart stores had fire drills regularly like schools do?

How would things be if Walmart stores had fire drills regularly like schools do?

Safer, for one.

In my opinion, all public buildings should do fire drills.

The best time to do it would be during non-peak hours (to prevent excessive disruption) but not in the middle of the night. (to ensure that customers are actually present)

In addition, anyone who refuses to leave during the fire drill (or an unplanned alarm) should be strongly reprimanded.

I think stores might not want to have fire drills due to the fact that they would risk losing some of their shoppers who might decide to just drive away and go somewhere else. Also shoplifters would take advantage of it. Plus it would be a large inconvenience for the shoppers to have to evacuate the store for a fire drill in the middle of shopping.


Fun fact: In Mexico, they do, kinda. Over there, all stores, offices, hotels, factories and basically everywhere other than residential occupancies are required to conduct twice a year what is officially called an earthquake drill (sometimes also referred to as a fire drill, evacuation drill or emergency drill), which is pretty much the same thing as a fire drill in the US. The reason for doing these drills is that Mexico has a lot of earthquakes, including some that have caused thousands of deaths, and the reason they are the same as fire drills is because the official government advice in case of any earthquake is to evacuate the building immediately (and the reason for that is because building codes there are pretty lax and developers are very corrupt, so it is assumed most building are at risk of collapsing within minutes in case of an earthquake).

Here are a bunch of examples of these earthquake drills, including several at Walmart and its lower cost format Bodega Aurrera:

Simulacro en Walmart Adelitas - YouTube

VIDEO simulacro en wallmart - YouTube

Simulacro 19/09/2014 Bodega Aurrerá IxtapaLuca - YouTube

Simulacro en Bodega Aurrera Huauchinango Part. 1 - YouTube

Simulacro en Bodega Aurrera - PC Córdoba Ver - YouTube

Simulacro de incendio en Aurrera - YouTube

La Tienda Aurrera realiza simulacro bajo la hipotesis de sismo en Cd Altamirano, Gro - YouTube

Simulacro de incendio en Coppel - YouTube


Simulacro de Evacuacion Hipotesis de Incendio en NextiraOne México - YouTube

Simulacro Hotel One Marzo2018 - YouTube

- YouTube

And for reference, here is what happens during an actual earthquake:

Temblor del 19 de septiembre de 2017 en Supermercado - YouTube

Sismo en SMARTFIT AMORES Colonia Del Valle - YouTube

- YouTube

- YouTube

Nice to see that Mexico is safer than the US in at least one area over there if not a whole lot.

For employees? Yeah, I think that might be a good idea to get them trained on how to handle situations like that and how to direct customers to the nearest exit in the event of an emergency. However, if they were done during normal store hours, I think it would be seen as a massive inconvenience for people who just want to buy what they need and go home.

Usually staff in places like these are trained to handle it, and part of that training is on how to round up customers and point them to the exits. Obviously they cannot do drills like schools because they never know who will be in the building at any given time, so this simple training is the best way to do it.

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The US is a lot safer because our building codes are stricter and we follow them better, thus eliminating the need to prepare for “total catastrophic collapse”. And Mexico is far more dangerous and corrupt than the US.

<LINK_TEXT text=“ … rate#Table”></LINK_TEXT> - Press the button to sort descending by homicide rate. The US is 4.96 per 100,000 people. Mexico is a whopping 29.07 per 100,000.

It’s good for people to be educated about how to react to an emergency. But requiring regular drills everywhere would be an example of the treatment being worse than the disease.

If y’all want to see fire alarms going off everywhere, perhaps one day our hobby will be popular enough that companies (whether alarm companies or their customers) will publicize their annual inspections much like amusement parks have shifted their marketing toward coaster enthusiasts, who have in turn educated the general public on the subject. But even in that hypothetical scenario, I worry about innovations life safety taking a back seat to innovations into how to please fanboys.

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A lot of it has to do with practicality. It’s a lot more practical to privately (and quietly) train your staff how to respond in a fire emergency than it is to just set the alarms off and see what happens.

The reason why fire drills are not required in mercantile occupancies and other such public places is that it is accepted that the people who may participate in your drill will not be there when a fire event happens. Therefore, the only ones who should have to worry about drills are staff. I can speak from experience having worked at HEB, you are trained to direct people to the nearest available exit. That’s it.

Now, I’ve taken on a personal mantra that if I hear a fire alarm go off in a public venue, I’ll take the initiative to shout “Let’s go!” and help motion people to the exits, because it’s best to respond to a fire alarm by dumping the building than it is to sit around and wait for a manager to give the go-ahead for evacuation. Who knows - I might get in trouble for it, but I’d rather help empty a building in a false alarm than wait for someone else to act in a real emergency. People don’t tend to evacuate unless they see their peers doing the same.

While I can see this as a good strategy for smaller scale instances, working in a large hotel with 27 floors to cover, we do not want to move an entire building of people out of the stairwells in a single run. We would easily clog all four of the main tower staircases by inciting mass panic and releasing all 27 floors at once. Our alarm system begins by alarming the primary origination floor and one or two above and below that floor. It starts with a standby message while our security and engineering teams are dispatched to investigate the incident. At the same time, the fire department is dispatched to meet with security at our Fire Command Center (a room at the side of the building with all of the panels and annunciators) to determine the validity of the alarm. If they conclude that the event is a false alarm, then a disregard message is broadcast over the alarm speakers. If a fire emergency is confirmed, we run a staged evacuation, prioritizing the alarmed floor and those above it (depending on the tower). Each floor is sequentially evacuated as necessary to keep the stairwells flowing while making sure we help guests that can’t make it down the stairs. While people are free to leave on the standby message, we don’t want to have everyone leave at once down a 300 foot stairwell.

Right - I mostly meant in the context of mercantile occupancies like grocery stores and things like that. Either way, it would not be advantageous for places to start having fire drills willy-nilly. It may have the opposite effect and may desensitize people to fire alarm signals.

Unless I hear a standby message, if I’m in a public place and the fire alarm sounds, I’ll calmly direct people to leave (out the closest exit, not necessarily the way they came in). I’d usually point towards the exit and respectfully say something like “leave the building using the exits for your safety”. If someone goes all Karen on me and refuses to leave, I’ll let them be. (Don’t ask to see my manager! I don’t have one.)

Question for Johann: what type of system does that hotel have?

It’s a large network of Notifier panels. I’m not really sure of the models but there are quite a variety of speakers and strobes in the building. I’d love to do a Fire Alarm Friday video on that system, but it’s a long shot.

Sorry to bump an old topic, but I was just going to say that things are pretty dangerous in Mexico. Lots of buildings don’t have fire alarm systems, sprinkler systems, or even emergency exits. Also railroad crossings usually don’t have signals, just a passive sign even on high traffic streets. No warning that trains are coming.

The reason they have to do those drills in Mexico is because they have lax building codes. During earthquakes buildings are at a risk of collapsing therefore must be immediately evacuated at the sign of an earthquake.

At least they have dedicated sirens for when an earthquake is about to happen.