On October 3, 2014 at 7:20 am Manhattan Center for Science and Math conducted a fire drill. According to the Department of Education protocol a minimum of ten fire drills must be conducted on a yearly basis.
The primary objective of a fire drill is to assure that ALL STUDENTS exit the building safely in case of a fire.
Question: Why is Manhattan Center conducting fire drills at 7:20am when the majority of the students don’t arrive until 8:19am?
During my time at Manhattan Center we had to evacuate the building on numerous occasions because of fire. Manhattan Center actually has a design flaw that causes what firefighters call a chimney effect. Simply meaning that a fire in the basement or first floor will cause an immediate smoke condition on the third floor. The administration at Manhattan Center knows this, yet they conduct an average of four fire drills a year at 7:20 am or earlier. The truth is repetition is important thus the word DRILL.
I speak from experience. During a bathroom fire in April of 2009. Some of the administrators panicked during and after the fire. This situation got so bad that two employees nearly came to blows in front of the students.
In a safety meeting after the fire Principal Jimenez praised Daniel Albetta for being a hero (When I heard this I immediately thought of a Ham and Bologna sandwich.) Albetta noted about the trash can fire “it was a raging inferno.” (Use dramatic voice when reading this quote.) The custodian who brought the fire extinguisher noted “that it was a small fire that he was able to put out in with no problem. ”
Every fire drill Manhattan Center runs with students is chaos. Manhattan Center is located on a BUSY INTERSECTION that leads to the south bound FDR highway. There is a mall across the street that has triple the number of cars that drive by. During every fire drill cars zoom pass students crossing the street because no one is stopping traffic.
During a fire drill in 2011, The Principal of Issac Newton Middle School was nearly hit by a car because no one had stopped traffic at the East 116th street intersection. During a fire drill in 2012, a teacher was nearly struck by a car that he tried to stop to allow students to safety cross. During the 2009 fire a number of students were almost struck by responding emergency vehicles because the administration had waved them back into the school.
The AP of Security Daniel Albetta refuses to listen to anyone suggestions when it comes to school safety. Even today as the fire drill was being conduct I over heard current staff members saying that he conducted today’s drill early because the last two with the students were total disasters.