Surprise fire drill shakes up Humanities building, tests system

Students wait outside the SF State Humanities Building on Feb. 21 during a fire drill around 7:30 p.m. The drill lasted for approximately 20 minutes. Gil Riego, Jr. | staff photographer

The Humanities building received a late night jolt tonight at 7:30 p.m. when a semiannual fire drill signaled for students and faculty to evacuate the building.

To simulate a real fire, no one was notified.

“Why tell them? If you tell them, they won’t leave,” said Daniel Ho, senior health and safety officer for the University. “The intent is to have them leave.”

Ho and Chief of operations Andrew Yu, accompanied with a University police officer, conducted the drill by pulling a fire alarm in the south wing of the building.

Students and faculty lingered in hordes outside each exit, waiting for Ho and Yu to unscrew the pulled alarm and reset it. Officer Velez gave the all-clear at 7:50 p.m., after about 20 minutes of Ho and Yu struggling with the alarm.

“We turn the screw that’ll give us the position to flip it back,” Ho said. “(On) that one, the screw was stripped.”

The unannounced drills, which occur once during the day and once during the night for each building, are not only about preparing those inside for an actual crisis but also to ensure the technology works.

“We try to see the whole system and the (evacuation),” Ho said. “We’re checking both.”

Even though SF State’s department of environmental health and occupational safety wants to prepare people for an actual fire or earthquake, not every class was willing to be interrupted.

“If there’s a real fire, then there’d be panic,” Ho said.