By Josh LaBella
The nearly 1500 students attending West Haven High School were evacuated within three minutes during a Sept. 6 fire drill.
Center Fire District Fire Marshal Keith Flood said, considering it was the first time a drill was run with the new wing of the school being utilized, the drill was “pretty impressive.” Flood said the Center Fire Department worked with municipal and state authorities to ensure students got out of the building safety and without going near any ongoing construction during the 9 o’clock drill.
“When we conducted the fire drill,” said Flood, “we pulled the pull station and then evacuated all the students. We had multiple people in different locations to make sure we had the proper evacuation techniques.
Flood said the state mandates they run two drills within the first month of school and then one every month following September. He said authorities end up doing 12 drills a year including lockdown and protect-in-place drills.
“It’s quite important that the students and faculty know what to do in case of an emergency,” said Flood. “With the high school it is a little different than the elementary school where kids are constantly changing classes. It becomes a little bit more difficult to get them onboard and have them do the right thing and going to the right places.”
The fire marshal said for that reason it is “imperative” they do the drills at different times of the day so the students and faculty know where to go no matter what time it is. He said the new wing of the high school is innovative, in terms of safety, and has features that are complimentary to safety procedures.
“With the fire alarm we also have, what we call, mass notification,” said Flood. “So, if there is a different type of issue within the school, we can facilitate notifying everyone within that new area of the school and get them to a proper location.”
Flood said there has been concern in the community about whether students are safe in the new wing and it is important they understand what “protection factors” were built in. He said he worked with the building department and State authorities, in conjunction with the construction company, during the building of the new area to ensure safety procedures were up to snuff.
“Approximately 1500 students in three minutes is pretty good for the first fire drill,” said Flood.