Office Woes #2: Frivolousness and Fire

Yesterday, we had a fire drill in the office. It is an important hazard prevention and safety procedure, probably compulsory for every company. In fact, I have a vague idea that it is a mandatory practice that is supposed to take place every 6 months, but I may be mixing that law up with another country.

We were informed about the drill over a day in advance. An email with the time was sent out, and the initial instructions, “Please proceed to the terrace at 12”, was contained in that email. Clear enough, I would say.

Noon came and went yesterday. No one budged. 10 minutes later, another email went out, patiently reiterating the far from complicated instructions. Again, no budged. One of the hapless members of the operations team in the office went around tapping everyone on the shoulder. Then finally everyone moved.

We trooped onto the terrace; all of us, except the founders, and whoever happened to be in a meeting with them at the time. Apparently that area of the office is fire retardant. Who knew.

The drill consisted of a thorough explanation of the causes of fire, how to distinguish them, which extinguisher to use, the necessary actions during an emergency or injury, etc. It was an excellent lecture, with decent delivery, and information that would certainly come in handy during a fire.

The guy was good, no doubt about it, and he tried very hard to engage a very childish audience. By asking questions. Another hapless unfortunate was unlucky enough to not only know these answers, by the virtue of having attended (and paid attention to) previous fire drills, but to also have the staggering bad foresight to actually answer. Of course, he was heckled as a teacher’s pet.

Then, the instructor suggested we all attempt to put out a fire with the extinguisher. He explained the build and construction of the extinguisher, and how to use it. He then set a small fire, and invited a volunteer to come forward. Did anyone go? Of course not. So someone was heckled into the limelight. Then another, and a third. A few more people were teased, me included, but I didn’t go forward. I’ve been to countless fire drills and paid attention at each one. Fires scare me, and frankly after witnessing the sheer asshattery of my childish colleagues, I can’t rely on any one of them knowing what to do in a crunch.

We were shown how to walk when experiencing a fire, and practising that, we filed back into our office. And went back to work without a second thought.

This morning, one of the colleagues who was in the afore-mentioned meeting, said he had skipped the drill. I gave him a few highlights, after he suggested he knew now to jump out of the nearest window. (Our office is on the 5th floor. That is a terrible idea with slim to no chances of success.)

I also told him about the mock fires, and the extinguishing trials. He had one question in response:

“Did they show us how to light a cigarette if we are in the midst of a fire?”

I gaped for a few seconds, before recovering my wits long enough to assure him they left out that particular lifehack.

I really hope this building never goes up in flames, because we will become tandoori, judging by these reactions.

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