Ok so it's been a while since any postings. Largely becasue Jenn has left and that makes me sad. That's not to say she left me. She left her miserable scam of a job at the "prestigious" Foreign Language High School (take special note of the sarcastic quotation marks there). At any rate, something happened today I felt I absolutely MUST tell you all about. FIRE DRILL!
This was not your standard alarm-ringing-stand-in-line-orderly-walk-out-the-school fire drill. They used real fire! Ok ok, not fire IN the school but still....fire!
So yesterday I noticed the grounds keepers trimming dead branches from trees and generally cleaning up the shrubbery around the front of the school. They've been clipping and pruning recently (the roses are coming up beautifully and I really need to get some pictures) so I figured it was just part of the maintanence. They piled all the branches and dead brush at the far end of the large field in front of the school. I assumed this simply made for easier collection. Little did I know it would be set ablaze.
Today, during the first class, my co-teacher Y informed me that the school would be having a fire drill during third period. Now I assumed this would mean an alarm would sound and we would all march out single file to the field, wait the necessary amount of time, and come back in with a hearty congratulations from the vice principal for being orderly and not trampling any of the 1st graders. However, during second period I did notice some sort of display being setup with two inflatable dummy flames and three fire extinguishers. "Funny," I thought. What I failed to notice was the fire truck, the other fire extinguishers, the can of gasoline, or the table setup with a lovely cloth covering, which is always used for cermonial occassions.
About 5 minutes after what should have been the start of our third period class, I noticed that the students were absent. "Oh right," I thought, "fire alarm. Guess they do it with their normal class teacher." Suddenly the omnipresent, and unintelligible, voice of our vice prinicpal sounded throughout the halls. He seemed a little worked up and excited about something and I naturally assumed it was the drill. Then the alarm went off and he continued talking. "I guess even fires are scheduled so he would know to be ready on the intercom when a real fire broke out." Then I got up and looked outside just in time to see the piles of brush produce wonderfully tall flames and billowing grey smoke that smelled a bit like spent fireworks. "Wow what fun!" was the first notion that popped into my head.
I watched from the window as students gather near the end of the field, skirting the outside border, and staying well enough away from the actual fire. Then the fire truck started up it sirens, drove the 100 yards to the brush fires, and began playing with their hoses, much to the delight of the kids. Two male teachers ran towards the now much smaller flames and valiantly assisted the firemen by spraying the remaining flames with fire extinguishers. I'm not sure if it was meant as a serious demonstration to the students or if they just wanted to have some fun, too. I suspect more the latter. The truck then used it's main fire cannon to finish off the second brush pile. The kids absolutely LOVED that. And so did the firemen as they then turned the hose towards the students in a long arching shower that misted the kids and teachers watching. The whole time I'm thinking to myself "my God, fire drills in U.S. schools SUCK!" A production like this would never be allowed. People would complain "oh the kids could get hurt," "someone could get burned," "they'll be drowned by the fire hoses, " "the children will be traumatized by seeing a real fire," "the kids might actually learn something." And the kids here did learn something.
After the initial pyrotechnics, the 5th and 6th graders were gathered to where the three fire extinguishers and the inflatable flames were setup. An instructor from the fire department then proceeded to *gasp* teach them how to properly use a fire extinguisher. After his initial demonstration and verbal instructions, the kids were allowed to walk up, three at a time, and take a practice shot at the dummy flames. And they must have been paying attention because they all properly aimed at the base of the fire (which is proper since you want to smoother the burning material rather than trying to make the flames smaller by spraying at them). School administrators, as well as someone official looking from the fire department, observed everything from the official covered table. When all was done, all the students gathered and the vice principal made an unintelligble, but certainly very grand, speech about the success of the fire drill. The official from the fire department also said a few words and afterwards all the students joined in a school spirited cheer and were led back to their classes.
The remaining brush piles were relit and the fire department watched over as they were reduced to smoldering ashes. I guess the city doesn't pick up bulk yard waste here in Gunsan.
|Turns out the "firework" smell was from this smoke flare above the school entrance.|
|"WALK BRISKLY KIDS! SAVE YOURSELVES!"|
|"Hey Kim, did we remember to bring the marshmallows this time?"|
|*WOOOOSH - FSSSSSHHHHHH*|
|"Hey this reminds me of the last riot. 'Course the students are much younger here."|
"And smaller. They go down a lot faster when the hose hits 'em."
"Yeah...Hey look at that bunch over there!"
|"I bet there's a test for this."|