Don’t Pencil Whip Your Fire Drills

“Pencil whipping” is a term we used in the military which means to complete the paperwork on something without actually doing it.  It was most often used for checks, drills and inspections that people didn’t want to do.  I was much to uptight to do it very often but I have been known to do it.

Since becoming a houseparent I have discovered that fire drills and safety inspections are things that could very easily be blown off and pencil whipped.  I assure you I will never, ever do it again.  I have become aware of at least two fires recently at facilities.  One was in staff quarters the other was in a cottage.  Thankfully nobody was hurt in either fire.

In the cottage fire I have to commend the houseparents.  All their smoke detectors had been recently checked and were working and they had practiced a fire drill just a week earlier.  All the children and staff evacuated the cottage just like they had practiced and it went very smoothly.  The fact that it happened at 12:30 AM and everyone was in bed makes the smooth evacuation even more impressive.

The fire started when the water heater malfunctioned and started a fire in the stack.  It set off the smoke alarm in the laundry room and also one in the hall.  The houseparent responded and was able to put the fire out with the cottage fire extinguisher (that also requires monthly checks.  Look at the back of the tag)  At the same time the housemom was insuring the evacuation went smoothly and accounted for all the children.  Because of their quick action, damage was limited to the area around the water heater and some minor smoke damage throughout the house.  Repairs are being made and they should be back in the cottage by next week, which I am sure they are very thankful for, because the temporary cottage is not nearly as convenient as the regular one.

Please do your safety checks, inspect your smoke detectors and fire extinguishers, and practice your fire drills.  The life you save may be your own.