On Sunday afternoon I was in a meeting at my church, rehearsing for a skit I’ll appear in at an upcoming Thanksgiving-themed service. Before we finished the second read-through, we were interrupted by the shrill sound of the building’s fire alarm. As my fellow “actors” and I entered the hallway leading to the nearest exit, I was pleased to see that others still at the church were quickly heading to the exits as well. Everyone gathered under the basketball hoop–the designated meeting place–at the far end of the parking lot.
As a staff person in the public education division of NFPA, I was ready to advise anyone who tried to leave the designated meeting place to stay there until told that it was safe to go back inside. But I didn’t have to. Everyone knew to adhere to fire safety practices.
It’s important for everyone to have an emergency escape plan when at a public venue, whether it is a place of worship, concert hall, or shopping center. NFPA’s tip sheet–Safety in Places of Public Assembly–outlines what to do when the unexpected happens.
A short while after we’d exited the church, we were relieved to find out from one of the associate pastors that there was no fire. The alarm was accidentally tripped and he had notified the local fire department.