Fire drills kindle mixed feelings

Students think that the number of fire drills in the dorms during the semester are unnecessary.


Infographic shows the current and budgeted funds to ugrade fire alert technology. | Angelica Abalos/THE CHIMES

Jocelyn Meza, Writer

While Biola’s Campus Safety department takes fire drills seriously, some students find the possibility of an actual fire unrealistic and the amount of fire drills conducted excessive.


California State law requires that residence halls in schools must perform at least one drill during a semester. However, Biola exceeds this requirement, said Justin Shelby, Campus Safety administration operations officer.

“Biola tries to hold itself to a higher standard, so it conducts drills twice a semester ever since 2005, to go above and beyond the required amount,” Shelby said.

Although residence halls are required perform one drill per semester, the number of fire alarms on campus exceeds this amount.

“We have ours go off something, like, eight a semester. We in Emerson are very good at fire drills, but they are annoying,” said Micah Shook, sophomore english major.


Many of these drills are unscheduled, but rather are the result of students triggering the fire alarm themselves, said Hanbee Hwang, sophomore Christian ministries major.

“I live in Alpha and our fire drills often happen when something is burning in the microwave. Besides that, there’s no actual fire, just burning food. I wish people would be more responsible and not burn food. Read the popcorn packet,” Hwang said.

Regardless of the cause, Campus Safety treats each drill as if a real fire were happening, Shelby said.

“Biola considers all fire drills as real drills. Whether it is an accidental set off by burning popcorn or a real fire, Biola treats all alarms with absolute fire safety precaution,” Shelby said.

Fire drill procedure includes Campus Safety officers and resident advisers walk through the dorms to ensure that everyone is out of the building. If the alarm is a result from a real fire then the fire department responds as well, Shelby said.


Residence hall staff does not always fully carry out this procedure, according to students.

“Last year a fire drill went off  and I was in the shower, so I didn’t even bother to leave. None of the RA’s seemed to care if I stayed,” said Kailyn Huckabey, junior business administration major.

Other students have encountered real life situations involving the repercussions of fires and regard residence hall fire drills more seriously.

“Usually when a fire drill goes off I don’t assume. I’ve known people who have lost everything in fires so I know how serious it is. Personally when a fire drill goes off I’m not worried, but I understand why the procedure is there,” Shook said.

While students recognize the potential to ignore fire drill procedures, the university takes measures the overall effectiveness of the alert system. Biola installed fire drill panels across campus that monitor smoke detectors and send information to Campus Safety, said Brian Phillips, director of facilities management.

“These new units are able to transmit much more detailed information to Campus Safety officers when a fire alarm goes off and can tell them exactly which dorm and what floor was in trouble,” Phillips said.


Jennifer Jensen contributed reporting. 

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