why do we have to do fire drills once a month

it says that in the nfpa schools have to do fire drills once a month but why not other drills?

Because I have to assume it is to do with the fact that a fire is the most common emergency that can happen to a school.

I don’t remember where I read it, but I think one of the reasons is as follows. By doing fire drills very frequently, occupants become accustomed to it, to the point where when the alarm sounds, they will automatically assume that it is a fire drill instead of an actual fire. That way, if there is an actual fire in the building, the occupants will remain calm because they think it’s just a drill. The only way this will work is if occupants are fined or otherwise punished for not evacuating.



EDIT: I misread the point of your post. In this day and age, I think lockdown drills should probably be as common as fire drills (probably not monthly though).

Also keep in mind that the NFPA has no actual jurisdiction over performing or enforcing fire drills, those are just “suggestions”. In most places, it’s up to the state, an AHJ, or sometimes the school/school district to come up with an appropriate requirement for how many drills take place each year.

Our Lady of the Angels School is why.



A fire in the 1950’s killed almost 100 children because nobody knew what to do in case of a fire, end result of that incident was mandated fire drills in the fire codes.



There are very few other codes like the fire codes… and lock down doesn’t really apply to any of the existing codes, however NFPA 3000 was just released recently which specifically addresses active shooter situations so it might be coming soon.

I thought the reason that there was so many fatalities was because school was built with flammable materials and nobody activated the alarm until the fire made it impossible for some classrooms to evacuate?

I currently have a copy of NFPA 3000, which should be noted that it’s a provisional standard. (speaking of which I need to read the entire book).

The current standard, NFPA 3000 9.5.1 currently states that,


However, that doesn’t specify lockdowns, though that may be implemented in the ASHER plan. Therefore, it’s probably safe to conclude that any security related drills, especially those relating to active shooter scenarios, must be conducted at least once per year according to this standard.



That being said, NFPA does clearly state that this is a provisional standard- a standard that is pretty much some of the first standardized guidelines for such incidents. The 2018 version is only effective for two years from 11 April 2018.

NFPA 3000 is a pretty solid standard, as it does a nice job of putting together some key response doctrine. In terms of drills, it depends on how “exercise” is interpreted. An exercise could be a first responder “tabletop” exercise, and not necessarily a drill or full-scale exercise. It also depends on which response “model” any particular institution adopts, as there are some variations among them, as well.



I’m originally from the midwest, and I remember we had tornado drills once a month. If I recall, they’d do them and fire drills on the same day - one in the morning and the other in the afternoon. The only “mandated” tornado drill (which wasn’t really “mandated,” per se) was participation in the statewide drill.

Required in NFPA 101 (Life Safety Code) 15.7.2.3 for educational occupancies:

If that is true for colleges then I have REALLY had bad luck with that because every time I was in class I never had any fire drills that happened and the two that I was caught in was because I was there when somebody burned food. :stuck_out_tongue:

No, it’s not just you, these rules don’t apply to colleges and universities. NFPA 101 considers them a business or assembly occupancy, which have no fire drill requirements, unless the AHJ says otherwise.



They are required in college dorms however, but it appears there is not a required frequency, just “with sufficient frequency to familiarize all occupants with the drill procedure and to have the conduct of the drill a matter of established routine.”



I’m just sharing what’s in the code that’s pretty universally applied across the US. My personal take is that the single-minded focus on fire drills in K-12 here has become a bit counterproductive.



Maybe it’s more necessary in schools without fire sprinklers, but schools are not the death traps that they were a couple generations ago.



So many unannounced drills leads children to think that every alarm is just a drill. Many, including myself when I was younger, dread being startled by the loud alarms, distracting them from lessons.



In other developed countries they are only done once or twice a year, even announced in advance, but the event is a bigger deal with more instruction and discussion. I can’t imagine the codes going that direction here, but it seems more sensible to me.

At my school they happen once a year… but that’s probably because it is in an office building.

The landlord also sends out multiple emails ahead of time.

Do the office occupants also have to evacuate?

Yes. It is buildingwide, and they also do fire drills at the other buildings in this office complex. AFAIK most office buildings do fire drills.

Yeah I can see why it would be done. I guess its just when I think of fire drills I think of schools. :expressionless:

maybe we should do lockdown drills once a month, how about that?

Lockdown drills are a lot more disruptive and take longer than fire drills which is why they aren’t done with a lot of frequency. Plus if there was one done once a month, eventually students would stop taking it seriously like how they do with fire drills and THAT would be a tragedy.

There was one state that used to require fire drills be done TWICE a month in schools.

NC requires (or at least used to require) two fire drills within the first full week of school for K-5 elementary schools. The first of the two would be usually the first or second school day and would be announced and prepared for well in advance. The second drill would usually be on Friday and would not be announced, save maybe a review of the evacuation plan right before.

Do you think that with the recent stuff that’s been going on that they would take it seriously, though?