Showing up for school last Thursday, it was difficult to tell what was going to be in store, but something was up. Something definitely felt different. Maybe it was the gigantic purple banner. Maybe it was addition of several new informative posters. More likely, it was the burning feeling in the centre of our bellies that said “hey, you know what, there might, just might, be a fire drill today…”
Shockingly, and conveniently scheduled in the middle of lunch, the alarm sounded and a broadcast system bellowed the standard instructions. Get out. Please Leave. The fiery kind of vibe. So, students, faculty and staff alike dived over their possessions, grabbed their phones and left via the nearest exit.
Collecting in the courtyard, the sneak-attack morphed into an extremely comprehensive affair. There was a truck, real fires, a smoke tent, various media outlets and a thought that rippled through the bewildered crowd – “this is very extra.”
You Shuting, a senior, witnessed the commotion, before sitting down and waiting for it to be over, and described the drill as “hilarious,” but “also fun at the same time.”
Others participated in fire safety related activities such as journeying up to the fifth floor on the firetruck ladder and waving, extinguishing real fires in garbage cans behind police tape, and passing through a tent full of smoke.
Ali Haider Shah, a senior, was able to use a fire extinguisher for the first time and said “it was exhilarating to be able to use it and to put out the fires,” adding he also “found it incredibly useful for them to teach us how to use them, how to be prepared and take action.”
Joshua Qiao, the Assistant Director of Public Safety, was heavily involved in the planning of the drill and confirmed “this year was really different.” Fire drills are mandatory at the start of the year in order to educate new students, but this July the police visited the academic building and said it would be a good location for a fire drill because “the fire facilities are very good.” Thus formed a collaboration with Pudong Public Security Bureau. The whole thing took over a month to prepare.
Qiao also emphasised that should NYU Shanghai have a real fire, the emergency services would be involved and so “cooperation is helpful for both parties” and “the skill is much bigger.” Additionally, there were changes in the alarm system and some problems were found over the summer in upper floors due to renovations. Qiao personally arrived at 6AM every day two weeks prior to the drill and “activated the system.”
Why all the wild publicity? Well, if you hold an event and don’t have banner, is it a real event? Is it worth a segment on International Channel Shanghai and a feature that was still being played on Shanghai’s public buses this Monday? Absolutely not. Besides, NYU Shanghai was noted to be a good platform to showcase skills and amongst all the woo-hah a good proportion of people learnt some.
Plus, as Qiao enthusiastically exclaimed, anyone could turn on the news and be reminded that NYU Shanghai exists. There could be a father with a son, a mother with a daughter, someone else with someone else, out there watching our fire drill thinking “phwoar that NYU Shanghai, I’ll send my kid there because they sure can handle the heat.”
This article was written by Stephanie Bailey. Please send an email to email@example.com to get in touch.
Photo Credit: Allison Chesky