Fire drill–True life story


Three of my girls attended a small Saudi school in a neighborhood in Riyadh. This is a story of the first fire drill they tried to implement and how it was handled in a typical Saudi school. 

The girls dropped their backpacks as they entered the villa, warning glances shot between the three as they made their way across the room. A familiar feeling gripped me reminiscent of many school days in the past. I struggled to keep silent knowing that any events that occurred at school were supposed to stay within the confines of that day, place and time. Issues that were daringly brought to light, were then dissected and proper instruction on avoiding further incidents were discussed at length. This process could take days or possibly months and involved potential restrictions on an already guarded freedom.

I greeted them, hugging and holding them close, a signal that meant I knew there had been trouble. They smiled with relief and ran to change out of their uniforms leaving a trail of shoes and hair ties behind them. I watched as they gleefully hopped up the stairs and then back down to sit for their afternoon meal. He must have sensed the tension as well and inquired about their day in an unrelenting fashion until little Soos finally broke down and opened the door for the upcoming inquisition.

Teachers and supervisors scurried through the building waving their arms frantically, girls sobbed uncontrollably making their way down the stairs, tripping and flailing along the way. The school staff yelled out, exclaiming that there was fire everywhere, instructing the young ones to run, pointing to their bodies at make believe flames they brought to life with frenzied voices. Mayhem overtook the facility and the two buildings that surrounded a small courtyard were engulfed in a simulated inferno. Girls whaled as they called out for their siblings, tumbling down stair wells, hurling backpacks and pleading for God’s help from impending doom.  Saleeha and Fattima found each other and searched for little Soos in the pandemonium and disorder. They located her and with no evidence of a fire, stood near the gate, watching in horror as the scene unfolded. Finally the principal spoke into a microphone in an angry and irritated tone, announcing that the first of many fire drills had now been completed.


116 thoughts on “Fire drill–True life story

  1. Oh Lynn, it is difficult to believe this is the way the conduct their fire drills. Any child would be horrified about this type of ordeal. Thanks for sharing, I find it interesting and in this case upsetting that these types of situations occur. Have a great Sunday. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. The whole point of a fire drill is to get an organized response to danger. It seems like they just wanted to create a chaos that would have been deadly in the real life experience of a fire.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It does seem to have been a particularly sadistic regime and not in the slightest bit justified in being that way. That your girls have come through so balanced and unaffected really must be a testiment to your mothering skills and the way you glued your family together so that they were able to support each other fully and wholeheartedly. xx

    Liked by 2 people

  4. It reminds me of my year with ADEC and the mayhem of the lunch patrol. The children were allowed to run around and the foreign teachers…we were at a loss trying to control. No help from Administration. That is why my previous post, I was relieved to find another blog which validated that scenario from a teacher who arrived with her 2 children and left after 3 months.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You’d think they would discuss how to react during fire drill BEFORE experimenting with one! Sounds like the administration were clueless…but your girls handled it with true style! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. So stupid of the teacher not to explain the purpose of the fire drill. I worked on the 11th floor of a high rise and there was a fire drill once a month. Well, walking down 11 flights of stairs is great exercise, I found. Some people grumbled and complained not realizing the importance of the fire drill. We were informed in advance that the fire drill was going to occur.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. That’s definitely not the way to do a fire drill causing panic and distress. The idea of a fire drill is to learn to handle stressful situations like a fire without causing panic! I hope the girls were ok and not traumatized from the drill!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This so typical of fear mongering and so traumatic for the girls, how awful of adults to act this way. The more I read as I said numerous times before Lynz, the more blessed I feel that you were guided to leave.
    Love Sue xx

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Very frightening and what mayhem ensued, Lynn. It would have been such a different life had there been a way to break free earlier. I am glad they are all so well adjusted. This is from your outpouring of love and hopefulness, Lynn. xo

    Liked by 1 person

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