We were sent an email yesterday informing us that there would be a fire drill at our office. It stated that at an undisclosed point during the day the fire alarms would go off. When that happened, everyone in the building was required, by law, to exit the building and walk across the street into the parking lot to await further orders. The elevators were out of play – it was stairs for everyone.
I work on the tenth floor. I wasn’t worried about leaving the building – gravity would do most of the work. What worried me was a couple of things. First and foremost, I had a 3:00 meeting and I knew full well that with my luck the fire drill would happen around that time. Secondly, I was worried about who they had put in charge of guarding the elevators and making sure everyone got out safely. I wasn’t one of them so lord only knew who the powers that be had put in charge.
The day passed busily and without much trouble. I was able to knock out a bunch of little things I needed to catch up on as well as take care of all the problems that arise during any given day. I ate a sensible lunch and had time to play my daily round of Band Hero with two of my favorite people. Life was good.
2:50 PM. The lights and sirens start. I knew it. I had a vendor coming in ten minutes. I didn’t have time for this. I considered hiding in the server room and hoping for the best, but I remember the line in the morning email that said “anyone found in the building during the drill faced a fine and possible jail time.” Having priors, I headed for the stairs.
Remember my concerns about the people chosen to lead us to safety? Think I was kidding? Here’s an example:
Yup, that lady was in charge of my life, as well as a good portion of the people from my building you can see here:
What I hadn’t thought about was the sheer mass of people who would later try to get back into the building. We have four elevators – three regular lifts and one service elevator, all of which can hold about 10-15 people each. The building is twelve stories tall. Needless to say, it would be a long road back to my meeting which I was now very late for.
Eventually, some bloke with a bullhorn showed up and told us to head back inside, noting that it took a mere seventeen minutes to empty the building. I don’t know if that’s good or not. We headed back inside:
Remember what I said about everyone getting back upstairs? I was right. Here’s a shot taken inside roughly ten minutes after I got back to the front door and started for the elevators:
I was finally able to get upstairs and who should I see but my vendor, waiting for me with a smile on his face. How he got up there so fast I have absolutely no idea, but it turned out to be a good meeting.
All in all, I appreciate that the building owners care enough about their insurance rates and city ordinance to force us into this once a year, but it totally sucks. Next time I’m heading to the liquor store up the street. You can find me there.