Barntown pupils get to grips with fire safety skills in mock evacuation
There was no playing with fire for the Barntown pupils when they took part in a mock fire evacuation as part of Fire Safety Week last Wednesday.
The day commenced with the sound of a piercing fire alarm, which rang out through the school and got all of the pupils standing to attention. Before long, 270 pupils came flooding out of the school in single file, with teachers and principal Louise O'Brien in tow. It all happened in a flash, with everyone safely outside in no more than three minutes.
'We rehearse as many fire evacuations as possible so that we know the children are safe and that they feel comfortable with the procedures,' explained Mrs O' Brien.
Though the church carpark is the usual fire evacuation point, the pupils lined up in front of the school to get a glimpse of the action to come. Before long, their cool and collected expressions morphed into excitement as two fire engines came whizzing up the drive complete with flashing lights and sirens.
As part of the staged evacuation, members of the fire service came to the rescue of third class pupil Ronan Bosworth, who was waiting in the school's refuge area to be brought out from the building. As Ronan is currently on crutches, he would require the assistance of the fire service in the case of a real fire.
'In these cases, the pupil will wait with his teacher in one of the school's two refuge areas and sound an alarm. When we hear the alarm, we will go to rescue them,' explained Assistant Chief Fire Officer Colm McGrath.
The pupils watched on as several fire officers did just that, emerging from the building with a smiling Ronan who returned safely to his classmates.
With all of the pupils safely rounded up, they were sent back to their classrooms to listen to talks on fire safety led by some of the fire officers. Many of the kids managed to get a quick high five with their new heroes before heading back inside!
Mrs O'Brien said that they were delighted to partner with the fire service for the event, saying that fire safety is considered very important in the school.
'We always do our own fire drill in September and then do one every term after that,' she explained. 'Each time we do it, we use alternative routes and make sure students are in different places so that we have to use Plan B. This ensures we are prepared for any scenario.'
Signs throughout the school, regular fire safety talks and the existence of a fire safety rep ensures that the pupils are fully prepared in the event of an emergency. The school is also built to allow for a smooth and safe evacuation, with two concrete fire escapes and two refuge areas on either side of the building.
Last week's mock evacuation was not only an opportunity for the pupils to put their lessons into practice, it also gave the fire officers the chance to familiarise themselves with the new school building and its layout according to Colm.