Not long after I start my career at the museum, we have a firedrill. A mandatory drill for all security guards in which we learn what to do if the building starts burning to the ground. While I don’t like coming to work on my day off, I would like to know what to do in this situation so I show up bright eyed and bushy tailed, ready to learn all there is to know about this emergency evacuation plan. A few minutes later and we’re done going over the plan but I’m left confused. I don’t understand why half of the museum would be told to evacuate using the emergency exit stairs (built to withstand high heat/fire) and the other half would use a main staircase (which by the way is NOT built to withstand fire.) And what REALLY blows my mind is that the half that are using the emergency exit stairs actually stop on the 2nd floor at a locked door which leads back into the museum, wait for another guard to open it from the inside and then they all exit through the main entrance.
I can’t be the only one thinking it, so I ask the question “What happens if the guard on the 2nd floor can’t get through the fire to open that door? Then everyone is locked in the emergency stairwell?”
My bosses response? “Why wouldn’t they be able to get there? It takes two minutes?”
Ummm… how about the fire that’s hypothetically ripping through the museum as we speak!? I would imagine two minutes feels much longer when your lungs are filled with smoke.
My boss does not respond well to being challenged and I do not like to make a scene so I let him win this battle but decide to use the suggestion box to explain how to make this plan more efficient. Basically my suggestion says, “Have everyone exit through emergency exit stairs all the way to the ground floor emergency exit doors.” My boss is confused by this and needs clarification. Even after I spend 15-20 minutes explaining how this would work, he still doesn’t get it. The next week the plan changes. Now he decides not to use the emergency exits at all. Everyone goes down the main stairs and exits out the main doors. This is the opposite of improvement.
Someone else must have explained my plan to him in terms that he understood because soon after, the plan changed to something similar to my suggestion. Apparently my boss didn’t fully understand the plan though and gave me the task of leading the firedrills for the next week or so. What an honor!
If you were wondering at any point whether or not you’d be able to keep a straight face when your boss suggests that staff and visitors go back into a burning building, I’ll leave you with a direct quote from the man himself.
“Don’t smile during the firedrill. I don’t want to see any smiles because this is serious stuff. I’m gonna be pissed off I see any of you smiling or laughing.”