To the Editor:
On December 1, 1958 at Our Lady of the Angles, a Catholic elementary school, in Chicago a devastating fire occurred which took the lives of 92 innocent students and three dedicated teaching nuns. From this fire many life safety regulations were enacted targeting the safety of students and staff for all schools throughout the USA. Fire drills became mandatory along with other safety requirements. It is now 60 years later and we have not had a single student fatality from a school fire. This is an outstanding record that the fire service and all first responders can be extremely proud of.
Today with the ongoing “active shooter incidents” in our schools some officials have suggested we either eliminated or reduce the fire drills. They are suggesting that when a hazardous incident has been detected school administrators may determine if evacuation or a lockdown “shelter in place” is required. This will compromise the current fire codes which has been keeping students safe for many years. The fire service claims that the delayed time to evacuate from a fire incident will cause extreme difficulties for first responders to assist student in a fast and safe exit.
Since effective gun control appears to be a distant reality we now need to develop new and effective code compliant means of protection. Some compromise may be required as our students and faculty require a safe and secure learning environment as they are our country’s future. Failure is not an option.
President, RES Associates