Practising how to evacuate a building in the case of fire so as to ensure what the processes are and how to improve them if necessary.
The impetus seems to have come from two disasters.
1) The Iroquois Theatre fire in Chicago in 1903 in which over 600 people died, in spite of the fact that it had been advertised as “absolutely fireproof”. It had 25 exits and it was claimed that the building could be vacated in 5 minutes. However, there were no fire alarms, seats were made of wood and easily inflammable hemp stuffing and the theatre which had space for 1,700 had 2,000 viewers.
2) Lake View School in Collinwood Ohio, a kindergarten in which 175 died, 172 children, two teachers and a person who tried to help. Caused by insufficient fire escapes, no fire department inspections, no fire doors, no clear exit instructions, wooden structure, panic. But The News Herald in Hillsboro reports in 1908 about the fire and the “fire drills” which had used only the front door, the last of which had been conducted within a month of the fire. So the word and the concept were already in existence at this date.
It was after this time, that fire prevention became a very serious matter in the United States. Fire drills, higher sophistication in equipment, better fire engines, sprinkler systems Now 22 states require fire drills in schools once a month, while the national regulation is at least once a year.
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