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Fire Warden Woes


I have been in my current job for just over a year. I inherited fire warden duties from my predecessor. I attended mandatory training last week and yesterday, our building had an annual mandated-by-LAW fire drill. There are many things that are lame about being voluntold to be the fire warden (almost as many as there are being voluntold Chair of the Occupational Workplace Health and Safety committee) but the one I think I hate the most is the blatant inability of my colleagues to accept responsibility for themselves.


I sent out an e-mail Tuesday titled "Fire Drill Tomorrow: Important Instructions Inside". I do not have the authority to call an all-staff meeting to give everyone fire drill information, plus almost everyone has experienced a fire drill in our building before (literally almost everyone. There are only three employees who came to the office after I did, out of 60.) So, I send the e-mail which contains detailed instructions on what employees are expected to do in a fire drill (basically, evacuate quickly and quietly). I even used the aggressive "this is an urgent e-mail" red exclamation mark. At the end, I said "if you have any questions, please see me".

I then send out e-mails to the employees who were identified last year as "searchers" and "stairwell monitors" and reminded them of their additional duties.

I had one team's administrative assistant come up to me and ask "Employee 1 and Employee 2 aren't sure what they're supposed to do and they're confused about the instructions." I responded, "the instructions are pretty clear and if they didn't receive any additional instructions, all that is expected of them is to evacuate. Also, why didn't they come to me themselves?" I'm not a scary person. I am really nice and smiley! Also, I told everyone to COME TO ME IF THEY HAVE ANY QUESTIONS. Other people did! Don't send your fucking admin! The admin is a very nice person, but now it is a telephone tag (Sings said this to Admin, Admin says that to Employee 1 & 2) and it's much easier to just clarify things directly. Also, if you did not receive special instructions, you don't have any! Just GTFO when you hear the alarm!


There are some employees who are physically unable to go down stairs. These people are exempt from participating in the fire drill. They are supposed to stay inside the fire doors of the stairwell and wait to be rescued basically. Instructions for these employees were also provided in my original e-mail. Employees who are exempt MUST self-identify EACH YEAR. I know it's repetitive, they don't have to tell me why they're exempt, they just have to tell me they are. Really, they don't even have to tell me each year unless it's a temporary mobility issue. I am going to assume if you have a permanent mobility issue that it's permanent.

So, the alarm goes off, I make sure that everyone is evacuating, after everyone has left, I go down the stairs. As we're outside at our safe refuge area waiting for the "go ahead" to get back to work, and I notice an employee who was exempt from participating in the drill last year due to mobility issues. I am surprised, since this individual has been working at our office for 20+ years and I assumed s/he was still exempt and had planned to account for that – ie. s/he would be sitting in the stairwell on our floor.


EXCEPT this morning I get an e-mail forwarded to me from my supervisor. The e-mail is from that employee's supervisor advising that the employee was "confused" about his/her status and wasn't sure what to do, and so went down several flights of stairs and evacuated with the rest of us. This employee then experienced severe pain and had to ice his/her leg and go home early. Maybe management needs to have a meeting to discuss how to clearly communicate this information.

*seethes with rage*

You guys! I am a voluntold fire warden! It is not my job to make sure that everyone reads the e-mail! It is my job to communicate the information – which I did. How was s/he confused by my instructions? Here is what I sent, verbatim on employees with mobility issues:

If for some reason you are unable to descend one flight of stairs unassisted, please let me know ASAP.

  • You will stay inside the fire doors of the stairwell until the end of the drill
  • Do not enter the stairwell until everyone else has descended.

Why can't people take responsibility for themselves?! If you were always exempt and sat at the top of the stairs waiting to be rescued in EVERY OTHER FUCKING FIRE DRILL EVER




If you're not going to read the instructions, or not going to follow the instructions and then you hurt yourself, this is not my fault.


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I feel much better now after ranting. Thanks for being a space to do so GT.

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