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HOW NOT TO
TO MAKE HEADLINES
rooms have floor space for 20. In a basement storage room, from which the only exit is up steep wooden stairs, are another 40 pupils.
A school in a small town in the State ONE DAY before this year's school term opened, a 5-alarm fire destroyed a Baltimore, Md.,
... has over 600 pupils enschool. This same type of fire a day later might have taken many children's lives. School LIFE presents this challenging article to alert you to the need for safe exit practices in your
rolled in an old building. The route to school before it may be too late. Author of the article is William H. Morris, Office of Educa- the girls' washroom, in the basement, is tion staff. The publication referred to in the article is School Fire Drills, by Nelson E. Viles, down wooden stairs and past an open
furOffice of Education Pamphlet No. 103. It may be obtained from the Superintendent of Docu
nace room. The furnace room has oilments, U. S. Government Printing Office, Washington 25, D. C., at 10 cents a copy. Also
soaked wooden floors, so old one can see available is A Curriculum Guide to Fire Safety for Elementary Schools, by Helen K. Mackintosh, Office of Education Bulletin 1946, No. 8, price 10 cents, from the Superintendent of
through the cracks. The washroom winDocuments. The photographs illustrating this article were furnished by the National Fire dows are fastened tightly with heavy wire Protection Association, Boston, Massachusetts. The first photograph was taken by Acme Photo,
If a fire should break out in the New York City. It shows pupils looking at what remained of their 3-story school building
furnace room, the washroom would make in Bethel Township, Pennsylvania, after it was destroyed by fire. Forty children were led to safety by their teachers. The second photograph, taken by Bill Wilson, Atlanta Journal staff
a perfect trap. photographer, shows an Atlanta, Georgia, elementary school burning. The loss was $60,000.
A university in the State of ..... uses the second floor of a building as an auditorium seating up to 600 persons.
The only exits are two wooden stairways ISASTERS that don't happen make no ment in the Office's Division of School
to a common landing on the first floor. headlines. Sometimes they don't hap- Administration.
Unfortunately, these are not isolated expen even though hazardous conditions have The fact that school attendance is com- amples. They can be found in almost existed for decades. That's sheer luck. pulsory places special responsibility on
every county and in most major cities in Sometimes they don't happen when danger school administrators for preventing dis- the United States. Today, as this article does arise because proper precautions have aster through fire and panic. Present is being written, the Washington Post carbeen taken. That's good management. overcrowding of many schools gives the ried a story about crowded schools in one But in neither case do they make headlines.
subject even critical importance. It can of our larger cities. Here are 1,800 pupils They should.
almost be put in a formula: (Undrilled in one area of the city attending schools An exception to the rule was the incident
pupils) X (overcrowded schools) + fire- built for 1,200. In one of the schools, in Texas City, Tex., last year. What hap panic (death by suffocation, trampling, or classes are held in a basement storeroom. pened in the Danforth Elementary School burning). A few illustrations of crowded Crowding of our educational institutions, was only a footnote to the searing story of conditions selected from files of the Office furthermore, is not a condition that may the disaster that struck the city. But the of Education may point up the danger. be soon corrected. We are far behind in National Parent-Teacher Magazine thought A school in C
County, construction. Yet the peak in school enit was worth the telling. When a merchant built for 700 pupils, has over 1,000 en- rollment has not been reached. My same ship exploded in the harbor and detonated rolled. Rooms built for 25 are crowded
morning paper tells more about that city the industrial plants nearby, the walls of with 40, two to a seat. In the same county
There are nearly three times as the Danforth School crumbled. Debris is another school with 35 pupils in each of many
6 and under as are now obstructed corridors and exits. Children
two dressing rooms off the stage. The in school; and nearly 3,000 additional were cut by flying glass. Yet, to the lasting glory of Principal Ray Spencer and his teachers, 900 children left the school in safety. The story of their orderly departure was told by the lines of blood along the hallways. Because they hadn't time to think, they acted through habit. There was no panic. It was the perfect fire drill.
Contrast that with the incident at another school, where 36 died one Christmas Eve. A candle set a Christmas tree afire. Everybody in the l-room school tried to get out through the only door in the building at once. Because the danger of panic is ever present under such circumstances, School Fire Drills, a bulletin recently published by the Office of Education, commands the attention of school administrators in every State. The bulletin was written by N. E. Viles, specialist in school-plant manage
School building destroyed by fire in Bethel Township, Pa., but children were saved.
housing units are under construction or
motors or equipment that might create fire planned in that area. Nearly 4 million “If the parents of American school chil- hazards while they are out of the building. babies were born in the United States in dren were to demand a maximum degree of This applies to shops, cafeterias, boiler 1947. Unless construction takes place,
protection before permitting their children
rooms, and the like.
to enter school buildings, many buildings therefore, at an unprecedented rate, we will
and building exit practices would, of neceshave further overcrowding, rather than an
Fire Alarm Systems
sity, be improved immediately." easing of the present situation.
-School Fire Drills Mechanical systems are often preferred Fire safety measures for schools include
for small buildings; electrical systems are proper construction and use of buildings,
generally considered superior for large elimination of hazards, plans for fighting If exit facilities were not originally con- buildings. The latter, however, may be fires, and plans for escape when danger structed to provide the safest exit pro- adapted to buildings of any size. Systems arises. School Fire Drills primarily dis
cedures under present conditions of build- operated by power should be on separate cusses the last-named aspect. It is con- ing use, school officials may now find it circuits. Sounding alarms should be sincerned with the saving of lives.
appropriate to request essential changes. gle repeated strokes of the gong. The High lights of the publication follow: Doors, for example, should swing out and gongs
should be of distinctive sound and should be unlocked when the building is located in noisy spots like shops as well as School Fire Losses
occupied. Night bars and chains should in corridors. Flashing lights may be used School fires are not a thing of the past. be removed when the building is used for in areas housing pupils with defective hearThe National Fire Protection Association evening meetings. Outside fire escapes ing. It is desirable to use similar signals estimates the number of school fires in the should be free of window boxes and other for all buildings in a school system. · The period 1930-46 at 35,000. Although few obstructions. Exit signs should be placed principal or his assistant should operate the of these were major fires, nearly all were over each exit from the auditorium. In alarm, but he should instruct all employees potential destroyers of life and property. preparing the plan, younger children on the method of operation, in case of
should have first-out privileges. Alternate emergency Basic Principles of Fire Exit Drills
No building is completely fireproof; no group of children is panicproof; no fire drill is completely foolproof.
Safety should not be sacrificed for speed. There is no substitute for actual drill. An uncontrolled drill may become a stampede; control of drills therefore must be absolute. Because both school officials and personnel change, the drill should be carefully planned and documented. Full participation should be required of all employees.
The supervising school official should discuss exit procedures with all teachers and other employees at the beginning of the year. Teachers should post instructions in each room and discuss procedures with pupils. They should discuss drills immediately after they have been held. The principal, however, should be responsible for the plan and for the execution of the drill in his building.
Dramatic photograph of Atlanta, Ga., school burning-loss $60,000. Developing the Plan
routes should be planned in case the as- Duties of Custodians In developing the plan, the principal signed routes are blocked. It should also and Other Employees and staff should prepare for all possible be decided whether the lines should reverse, contingencies. The plan should be tailored or circle, in that case. All action must The custodian should keep all exit lanes to fit the building. Yet it must have flexi- function immediately on the basis of pre- clear of furniture, soda dispensing mability. There should be similarity in plans vious plans.
chines, and the like. He should regularly for different buildings in the same district Monitors may be selected to lead lines, inspect rails, exit lights, panic-exit devices, so that transferring pupils will not be con- hold open doors, and to serve as searchers fire escapes, alarms, and doors. He should fused. Plans should be discussed with to clear toilets, showers, and semi-isolated report in writing, keeping a copy for himlocal fire department officials. “Each drill areas of pupils. They, too, should be self, defects in alarm systems or exit facili. may be made a teaching device in con- trained in their duties.
ties that he cannot repair. When the alarm trolled concerted action."
Teachers and pupils should shut off is sounded, he should shut off motors con
trolled from his area. He
may or may not fighting squads and teach them use of tributions for the operation and mainteassist in putting out the fire. A designated extinguishing devices.
nance of school facilities to local school employee in the principal's office should The supervisor responsible for school agencies that are overburdened with school lock vaults and files containing records. safety should require an efficiency report enrollments caused by war activities or
on each drill. If a building is so unsafe resulting from the reactivation or expanThe Drill
as not to assure reasonably safe evacuating, sion of any defense establishment or the Frequency of drills should be based on the building should be made safe or no operation of any defense establishment. local conditions. Probably fewer drills longer used for housing school children. An appropriation of $6,000,000 was auwill be needed for older pupils. Drills
thorized (Approved June 29, 1948.) should be held until perfection is obtained;
ACTS OF CONGRESS
Public Law 785 (H. R. 6935).- This law they should continue to be held to main
appropriated to the Bureau of Community
Continued from page 5 tain perfection. Drills should be held at
Facilities, Federal Works Agency, $3,000,various times during the day, including the Public Law 796 listed under Higher Edu- 000 of the $6,000,000 authorized by Public period during class changes. The style cation earlier in this summary.
Law 839. (Approved June 25, 1948.) should be varied to simulate fire conditions. Except for the first drill of the year, they Surplus Property For Education
On Federal Projects should be unexpected.
Public Law 616 (S. 2277).This law Public Law 586 (H. R. 4201).—This law Group gatherings in auditoriums and amended the Surplus Property Act of 1944 authorized payments to public-school disgymnasiums present special safety prob- to provide that the War Assets Adminis
tricts serving Fort Peck Project, Montana, lems. A recommended practice is to desig. tration may transfer to any State, includ- for education of dependents of persons ennate certain teachers to be present at such ing political subdivisions or municipalities gaged on Fort Peck Project. (Approved gatherings and to train them in appropriate (school districts implied), any surplus June 3, 1948.) procedures. It may become necessary to land, including improvements and equip- Public Law 835 (H. R. 6028).–This Act obtain cooperation from fire department ment thereon which, in the opinion of the authorized the Secretary of the Interior to officials in enforcing safety regulations. Secretary of the Interior, is suitable and
make provisions for the education of perStanding and sitting in aisles or around desirable for use as a public park or recrea- sons employed on the actual construction of exits should be prevented. Exit drills tional area. (Approved June 10, 1948.)
projects engaged in by the Bureau of Recshould occasionally be held when pupils Public Law 652 (S. 1302).- This law lamation in cases where construction acare gathered in assemblies. amended the Surplus Property Act of 1944
tivity places an undue burden upon the Teachers, especially those of adjacent to authorize the War Assets Administrator
facilities of the public schools serving the rooms, may be assigned to work in pairs to dispose of, without charge except for construction areas. The Secretary is diduring drills. Pupils in this case should shipping costs, to States, including politi- rected to enter into cooperative arrangebe taught to follow the instructions of either cal subdivisions (school districts implied), ments with local school districts where such teacher. Teachers should understand that to public and governmental institutions, or construction activities exist and make a teacher-panic breeds pupil-panic. to nonprofit or tax-supported educational
contribution from funds available for the If plans for alarm systems, exit facili- institutions and nonprofit associations, any project for covering the cost of furnishing ties, and the like, have been put into effect, surplus personal property suitable for use educational services required for the dethe exit drill itself may be reduced to a in athletics, sports, or games. (Approved pendents of project employees. (Approved minimum number of steps. These steps June 16, 1948.)
June 29, 1948.) follow consecutively from the time the Public Law 889 (H.R. 5882).-This Act alarm sounds, when pupils stop work at authorized the Secretary of the Armed Indian Education once, until the principal and assistants make Forces to donate for educational purposes Public Law 481 (S. 805).—This Act authe final check for stragglers.
without cost other than for packing and thorized and appropriated $250,000 for the If outside fire escapes are to be used in transportation, such equipment, books, and
construction of a high school at Roosevelt, an emergency, they should be used in drills. other supplies as may be obsolete or no Utah, to be administered by the CommisIf the principal feels that the escapes are longer needed by the Army, Navy, or Air sioner of Indian Affairs in cooperation with unsafe, that fact should not be an excuse Force, and which any of the Secretaries or local and State school authorities. It stipfor not holding drills by route of the stairs the Commissioner of Education consider
ulated that such school shall be available until the escapes are made safe.
usable for educational purposes. With a to all Indian children on the same terms as few exceptions, the approval of the Com
other children of the local school district. Putting Out Fires
missioner of Education is required as a (Approved April 15, 1948.) The hanging of a blanket near hazardous
prerequisite to donations to educational spots like laboratories for use in wrapping institutions. (Approved July 2, 1948.) around a pupil whose clothing catches on See Public Law 796 given under Higher fire is recommended. A flood shower may Education above. be maintained in chemistry rooms for the
See summary of “Court Decisions Re. same purpose. It is not necessarily wise Aid to War Defense Areas
lating to Education" by Dr. Keesecker in for all persons to abandon a building and Public Law 839 (H. R. 6527).--This law November 1948 School Life. During the leave a small fire that might spread before authorized the Federal Works Administra. year, School Life will bring you other firemen arrive. Some schools organize fire. tor during the fiscal year 1949 to make con- reports on legislation affecting education.
New Books and Pamphlets
By type of facility, the break-down is: New buildings and additions, 7.9; remodel.
ing and rehabilitation, 1.3; equipment, 1.2; American Children Through Their Books Crosby. Published by the National School Service
and sites, 0.6. 1700–1835. By Monica Kiefer. Philadelphia, Institute, 307 Palmer House, Chicago 3, Ill., in University of Pennsylvania Press, 1948. 248 p.
Costs and Financing.–The average buildcooperation with National Education Association, Illus. $3.50. National Association of State Teacher Association
ing cost index for the first 6 months of 1948 Secretaries and the School Public Relations Asso- was 331.2l on a 1913 base of 100, as comThe Challenge of Atomic Energy. A Re.
ciation. 24 p. 25 cents. source Unit and Discussion Guide for Teachers
pared with 228.75 in 1943, 239.14 in 1945, and Group Leaders by Crary, Evans, Gotlieb, and
A State-Wide Nutrition Program Sponsored
and 307.68 in 1947. There seems to be no Light. New York, Bureau of Publications, Teachby the West Virginia State Nutrition Com.
indication that costs will come down any ers College, Columbia University. 92 p. 90 cents.
mittee. Charleston, W. Va., 1948. 156 p. Illus. time soon. Thousands of localities cannot Community Education in Action. A Report
Teaching the World to Read; A Handbook
provide urgently needed school facilities on Community Organization and Adult Educa. for Literacy Campaigns. By Frank C. Lau
from local sources and bonding capacities. tion. Published through the Cooperation of the
bach. Institute of Adult Education, Teachers College,
New York, Friendship Press, 1947.
State financial assistance will be necessary. Columbia University. (Order from: American 246 p. $2.
Many reports coming to the Office of EduAssociation for Adult Education, 525 West 120th
cation indicate that there are several States
Wealth Through Education. By V. L. Cox.
that will not be able to provide their miniFor You A Career in Home Econom$3.75.
mum school plant needs without Federal ics. Washington, D. C., American Home Eco
financial assistance. nomics Association (700 Victor Building), 1948.
SCHOOL BUILDING CRISIS
State School Plant Assistance. There are 24 p. Illus. 50 cents.
Continued from page 12
32 States that have State school plant reguFree Teaching Aids in 14 Subjects. Com- type plans rather than massive structures, lations and/or require State approval of piled by Lili Heimers. Upper Montclair, N. J.,
and (7) maximum provision for adaptabil. plans for all or certain types of districts. New Jersey State Teachers College, 1948. 53 p. (1948 Series, No. 1.) Processed. $1. ity to changing conditions.
Only 27 States, however, provide school
Educational Plant Needs. In the fall of plant specialists in the State departments of Gymnastic Handbook. By Major J. G.
1947 the Office of Education, in cooperation education. There is a definite trend toward Thulin. . Published by Sydsvenska Gymnastik
with the National Council of Chief State institutet, Lund, Sweden. Cloth binding, 488 p.,
State aid for capital outlay. Nineteen 3,300 illustrations, $5.50; paper-bound, $4.50. School Officers, studied the needs for edu- States now provide some financial assistance
cational facilities-land, buildings, and to local school districts for capital outlay. Indoor Climate. A Science Reader for the Junior High School. By Elsie Padgett. Gaines
equipment to replace or modernize unsafe Ten of these State aid programs are sig. ville, Fla., University of Florida, Sloan Project in and obsolete educational facilities and to nificant in the amounts of money provided. Applied Economics, College of Education, 1947.
provide new facilities to accommodate pres- Several States not now providing this as40 p. Illus. 35 cents.
ent educational programs and enrollments sistance are contemplating legislation for Let Us Pay for the kind of Education We predicted for the immediate future. The this purpose in 1949. Need. Report of a Study of State and Local total estimated cost of these school and col. Support of Mississippi's Schools. William P.
lege plant needs, both for public and nonMcLure, Director. University, Miss., Bureau of Educational Research, University of Mississippi, public institutions, is 11 billion dollars.
public institutions, is 11 billion dollars. Confer on 1948. 151 p. (Studies in Education, Vol. 1, No. 1.) The break-down is: Elementary and second
Statistical Reporting Public Relations Primer. Especially adapted
ary public, 6.6; nonpublic, 0.8, higher for schools. By Lew E. Parmenter and Otis A. education, public and nonpublic, 3.6.
An over-all plan for statistical reporting to be done by higher education institutions
for national reports was considered at an Subscription Blank
Office of Education conference held just
before the end of the 1947-48 school year. SUPERINTENDENT OF DOCUMENTS,
Conferees were mainly university and
Government agency officials who represent Government Printing Office, Washington 25, D. C.:
those in the field who will be called
upon Please send me School Life for 1 year, and find $1 (check or money order)
to supply data and who in turn find reports enclosed as payment.
prepared from such data useful in their School superintendents please note: On all orders for 100 copies or more to respective institutions and fields. be sent to one address, there is a discount of 25 percent.
It was the consensus that the Office of
Education should be the focal point for Name
higher education statistics—that colleges Address
and universities could save time and energy City State
by referring statistical information requests to this Office.
U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE. 1946
Office of Education Publications Scheduled to Come From the Press in the Months Ahead
3 WRITE to the Superintendent of Docu- Buy coupons in advance from the Su- Use the deposit system of ordering. You ments, Government Printing Office, Wash- perintendent of Documents, Government deposit $5 or more with the Superintendent ington, D. C. Give the name of the publica- Printing Office, Washington 25, D. C. (20 of Documents, Government Printing Oslice, tion desired, the number or designation, and for $1), and enclose a sullicient number of Washington 25, D. C. The Superintendent the issuing office or branch of government. such coupons with your request for pub- of Documents furnishes a deposit number Enclose your check or postal money order lications to cover payment. These coupons which you use in ordering publications with your order. Send currency at your are accepted as cash payment for any Gov- thereafter. You do not have to enclose own risk. Do not send stamps or foreign ernment publication. Many Government payments of any kind if this system of money. Remittance must accompany the publications are inexpensive. Use of the ordering is used. Neither do you have to order. If a requested publication is tem- coupon method of ordering saves time and know the specific price of a publication in porarily out of print, the Superintendent of expense of sending a check or money order advance. You can order by title and Documents will fill your order when the to cover a small cost. Coupons can be ask that it be charged to your account at publication again comes from the press. handled more conveniently than coins. the Government Printing Office.