Well, that is not entirely true. I'm not sure if someone pulled the alarm (by accident or not) or if the loud sounding buzzer was set off by something else. But, I was in a class at the time. Having not experienced a fire alarm situation since high school, I was able to both participate and observe the situation at hand. Here is a brief breakdown of how it went:
Fire alarm sounds. Not unlike a shrieking banshee, the alarm was beyond loud.
Students in my class begin to look at each other. First with the look on their faces of "is that the effing fire alarm?" followed quickly by "yup, that's the fire alarm so we better stand up."
It is this point of the situation that baffled me the most. Instead of quickly walking out into the hallway and to the nearest exit after hearing the alarm, what did my fellow colleagues do? Pick up their stuff, of course! This includes packing away laptops, putting on coats, shutting books and binders, etc.
Students finally proceed into the hallway with what seems like their last worldly possessions in tow aside from the family cat.
Once outside, I recall seeing a sheet of paper posted beside the doorway in the classroom that outlined Emergency Evacuation procedures. My wish is that occupants of the building had read these procedures BEFORE HAND rather than reading them during the actual drill (which I nearly did). The thing about the notice by the door was that it was multiple words in length, perhaps more than 100. It outlined in detail what to do regarding various types of alarms. If I had my way, the sign would read:IF YOU HEAR THE ALARM, GET THE HELL OUT OF THE BUILDING."
I saw only 2 firetrucks arrive on scene. However, I was at the side of the building beside the townhouses so I didn't get the greatest view of the big shiny red trucks due to that eye-sore of the brown portable that was blocking my line of sight.
This fire alarm experience has raised a couple of questions for me that perhaps deserve answers:
1) Why are there different levels of alarm? To me, an alarm is an alarm. If you hear it, get out.
2) How come students (and professors!) gathered up their belongings prior to evacuating? You would think that in a potential life-or-death situation that personal belongings would be found at the bottom of the priority totem-pole.
3) What about students who are Deaf and/or Hard of Hearing? There are a couple of flashy lights (in the hallways), but what about elsewhere? What if they don't hear the alarm if they are in the library? A washroom? A residence room?
4) How should students who use wheelchairs be handled in this situation? Elevators are not to be used during emergencies, but what if they are on the 3rd floor of H-wing? How are they to evacuate while still maintaining their sense of dignity? Why are some evacuation signs in classrooms not at eye-level for someone in a wheelchair?
I'm not sure if anyone else has had a similar experience or thoughts, but I'd like to know.