An update from Ann Batenburg, Faculty in Residence (FiR) for the Virginia-Snider Residential Commons:

August 27
Fire drill. 6:30 a.m. ‘Nuf said?

They warned me ahead of time, so I did have advance notice. And it’s not like I haven’t been through this before; after all, I was an undergraduate myself in the distant past subjected to this state-mandated form of torture. More recently, I was a “House Counselor” (Read: “RA.”) for a boarding high school for girls in North Carolina. The building was very old and dusty, and its particle-sensing fire alarm system was very new and sensitive: a tragic combination. It was unfortunately common to have two or three fire alarms go off in a single evening. So, it’s not like I didn’t know what to expect from a fire drill.

And yet.

I feel as though I need to prepare future FiRs who are saying to themselves right now, “How bad can it be?” In that spirit, here are some special FiR preparedness tips for fire drills:

1. Find a place in your unit where clothing will be kept – clothing dedicated to fire drills. Clothing that can be easily put on when you have been woken from a dead sleep in the middle of the night by you-are-not-quite-sure-what, because an earsplitting alarm is removing all capability of rational thought from your mind, and strobe lights are threatening to throw you into a state of photosensitive epilepsy.

2. Or, just plan on students seeing you in your jammies. Might use that first drill just to get that out of the way.

3. Hope the earsplitting alarm prevents students from remembering to grab their phones, so they won’t be able to get pictures of you with a shocking case of bedhead.

4. It might be raining. Leave an umbrella by the likeliest exit. (Yes, if it’s raining, you still have to leave the building. Trust me. With that noise? It will be impossible to stay. Your choice is wet or deaf.)

5. People with kids? Good luck. Fortunately, the crying/screaming-in-fear will be drowned out by the alarm.

I do hope that, now, future FiRs will be better prepared for this, again, state-mandated activity (Read: Your complaints will fall on deaf ears. Everyone in the Texas State Fire Marshal’s Office has been through too many fire drills.)