School shooting shows awareness is a must when fire alarm is pulled

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There are some concerns among local school students and staff about their safety when the fire alarm goes off.

fire alarm on wall

Six times a year, schools in our area are supposed to practice fire drills. Severe weather drills and active shooter drills have also been added to the list.

But in light of recent events, including the Parkland, Florida, school shooting, some are fearful they become targets as they flee the building when the alarm goes off.

When a fire alarm goes off in a school, whether for a drill or the real thing, Fond du Lac Fire Chief Peter O'lLary says students need to have situational awareness.

"They have to be looking up, looking around," according to O'Leary, "not preoccupied in what may be going on somewhere else but look around, make sure they're looking out and looking at the surroundings."

That's what is taught at Fond du Lac High School. Just this year, the school, which used to practice lockdowns, has now also implemented a red alert where it asks students with the guidance of teachers to make decision based on what they're hearing, what they're seeing, and what's going on around them.

Matt Steinbarth is the principal at Fond du Lac High School. He says, "For instance, at our school, if something is happening in the gymnasium and our students are in the tech ed wing, they would know that they can get out of the building and make sure they are safe that way."

Part of that knowing is the situational awareness and realizing the way you came into a building might not be the best way out. And the only way to remember that is practice.

O'Leary adds, "We want them to be vigilant about the importance of the drills but we want them not be fearful."

So in the event of an emergency they know how to react.

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