Why we hate fire drills

There’s no denying it – the constant fire alarms are the worst thing about RHUL


On a Wednesday afternoon in a student’s room, music playing and no rain falling outside, a fire drill sounding is hardly an issue. In fact, it’s hardly inconvenient to slip some shoes on, grab something warm, remember the key, and make your way outside and away from the building, eyeing the crowd for friends to chat with.

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Only a few minutes later –at most ten – the shrieking of the drill ceases and everyone meanders back indoors to resume whatever they were doing.

The situation takes a turn for the incredibly-irritating and totally-unacceptable, when this simple drill occurs at 1:15 in the morning. For the unlucky students who chose to get an early night and haven’t been up partying or spending time with friends, it’s a most brutal awakening.

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Think of an alarm clock. In the case of an iPhone alarm it may be the obnoxious duck-quacking noise, and in others it may just be your traditional ring.

Now think about that exact feeling you have at 7:00 in the morning, when the noise blares and your mind is ripped violently from its deep and silent slumber. It’s uncomfortable and annoying, and dread washes over you because this means you have to get out of bed.

Replace that alarm clock with the fire alarm in the building.  Not only do you have to get out of bed, but you have to put on shoes, throw on a jumper, and rummage around in the dark for your key and go out into the cold outside, eyes only half-open. The discomfort of this situation becomes almost unbearable if there is any trace of a hangover involved.

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Bring it up at lunch and it is something almost every student has something to say about from, “We had to leave in the middle of a lecture,” to, “My hair was wet.”

And if there are any Kingswood students present, someone will definitely mention how irritating it is that if one building’s alarm goes off, everyone in Kingswood is awake regardless.

The constant fire drills throughout the year at Royal Holloway would not be such an annoyance if it weren’t for just how frequent they are, and how easily caused.

In the Kingswood showers there is a notice on the door warning students to keep the door closed while using the shower so that the steam does not set off the smoke alarm.

In the pantries there is an open window and a fan always running to let out the steam from the kettle or toasters.

Yet even after all of these adaptations, there is always that one student that burns a piece of toast and evacuates the entire building.

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At the end of this rant my steam thins out and I remember that as a student fresh out of a secure home, I would rather have the uni take these measures to make sure we know how to react in the case of a real fire, than have chaos and confusion in the event of real danger.