I-Team: School emergency drills

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – The 22News I-Team discovered there’s a lot of schools in western Massachusetts that aren’t meeting state regulations. We took an inside look at everything from fire drills to lock down drills. Not every school gets a passing grade.

“Right now we’re tripping the building fire alarm,” said Holyoke Fire Captain Tony Cerruti.

The 22News I-Team was with members of the Holyoke Fire Department at Holyoke Community Charter School for a fire drill.

(Is their a goal or a time limit?)
“We want to get about 2 minutes,” said Captain Cerruti.

(If there is an actual fire, how do prepare for a little more confusion as you guys are probably rushing in?)
“We go for that 2 minute time frame which is great, our response time, it takes them about 2-3 minutes to get here,” said Captain Cerruti.

A state regulation requires fire departments perform fire drills at each school at least four times a year.

The I-Team received reports from 35 western Mass. schools. 19 had at least 4 fire drills in the 2012-2013 school year; 16 of them did not. Some schools didn’t have the required records on file, others didn’t send us their info we requested two months ago.

(Is four (fire drills) a year necessary?)
“It is important, I think if you had any less the kids may forget or won’t be following the same paths, the students aren’t necessarily in that same classroom, spreading them out four times a year let’s the kids think what am I going to do if I’m not in the classroom,” said Captain Cerruti.

The I-Team discovered through school records that the Leeds School only completed two of their required four fire drills last year. They have a new principal now and he told us they’re up to code.

“With the spring there were a lot of changes, my predecessor actually resigned a little early, several things we’re put in the back burner, unfortunately that was one of them,” said Leeds Elementary School Principal Sal Canata.

“Let’s face it, every child from the age of 5-17 knows exactly what to do in a fire drill,” said Westfield Police Captain Michael McCabe.

Captain McCabe isn’t dismissing fire drills. “You are infinitely more likely to be impacted by some school shooter or terrorist act than you are a fire.  I would like to see lock down drills or code white drills to be done with the same type of efficiency that the fire drills are.”

Currently, there aren’t any state regulations that require schools to perform lock down drills. Many agree there needs to a universal plan, the problem is agreeing on one.

“We have a very good plan in place, but it’s never perfect, you always need to be looking at it, because there’s never a way to anticipate what it is you could be dealing with,” said Dr. Suzanne Scallion, Westfield Superintendent of Schools.

“I think it has the potential, but I think every situation is different. One of the more popular lock down drill methods is to grab everyone, close the shades, turn the lights off and go into a corner. That may not be the best strategy depending on the different strategies that may occur. I think there has to be some alternatives, some options,” said Stefan Czaporowski, Principal of Westfield Voke Tech.

Like fire drills, the younger the kids learn how to respond in an emergency, the more prepared  they’ll be to handle a real one.

“I think the kids regardless of the age realize the seriousness any type of threat any type of danger. I think there pretty well trained where they’re good reporters now, when anything strange is happening they let us know,” said Principal Canata.


2012-2013 Less than 4 Fire Drills:


  • White Brook Middle School – 9/3/13


  • Mapleshade Elementary School – 8/30/12, 4/9/13
  • Mountain View Elementary School – 8/30/12, 4/9/13
  • Birchland Park Middle School – 8/30/12, 4/9/13
  • East Longmeadow High School – 8/30/12, 4/9/13


  • Ludlow High School – 8/31/12
  • Paul R. Baird Middle School – 8/30/12
  • Chapin Street Elementary School – 9/2012
  • East Street Elementary School – 8/31/12, 10/18/12
  • Veterans Park Elementary School – 8/31/12


  • Wolf Swamp Road – 11/15/12, 12/4/12, 3/18/13


  • Leeds School – 10/4/12, 3/13/13


  • Smith Middle School – 9/11/12, 11/5/12, 1/9/13
  • South Hadley High School- 9/13/12, 12/6/12, 5/2/13


  • Green Meadows Elementary -9/7/12, 1/11/13

2012-2013 FOUR DRILLS:


  • Center and Pepin Elementary Schools – 9/11/12, 9/14/12, 5/1/13, 6/6/13


  • Meadow Brook Elementary School – 8/30/12, 9/7/12, 4/9/13, 4/10/13


  • Chester Elementary – 9/4/12, 10/25/12, 11/20/12, 12/20/12, 1/15/13, 2/25/13, 3/28/13, 4/26/13, 5/17/13
  • Littleville School – 9/4/12, 10/25/12, 11/30/12, 12/11/12, 1/30/13, 2/26/13, 3/28/13, 4/1/13, 5/3/13
  • Gateway Regional High and Junior High School – 9/4/12, 10/11/12, 11/14/12, 1/7/13, 4/4/13,


  • Blueberry Hill School – 9/20/12, 1/9/13, 3/11/13, 4/23/13
  • Williams Middle School – 9/11/12, 10/10/12, 1/11/13, 3/18/13
  • Glenbrook Middle School – 9/11/12, 10/10/12, 11/15/12, 3/21/13
  • Longmeadow HS – 9/11/12, 1/8/13, 2/26/13, 4/9/13
  • Center School – 9/11/12, 1/7/13, 3/11/13, 4/23/13


  • JFK Middle School – 9/13/2012, 10/4/2012, 3/20/2013, 5/2/2013


  • Plains Elementary School – 9/5/12, 10/23/12, 1/23/13, 3/25/13, 5/29/13
  • Mosier Elementary School – 9/1/12, 11/5/12, 1/9/13, 5/10/13


  • Minnechaug Regional HS – 9/13/12,9/18/12, 5/2/13, 5/17/13
  • Wilbraham Middle – 9/4/12, 9/17/12, 5/2/13, 5/22/13
  • Thornton Burgess Middle – 9/7/12, 9/17/12, 5/13/13, 5/29/13
  • Soule Road Elementary – 9/4/12, 9/17/12, 5/13/13, 5/29/13
  • Stony Hill Elementary – 9/4/12, 9/17/12, 5/9/13, 5/21/13
  • Mile Tree Elementary – 9/4/12, 9/17/12, 5/2/13, 5/22/13

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