25 Investigates: National fire safety group weighs in on fire drill investigation

25 Investigates: National fire safety group weighs in on fire drill investigation

QUINCY, Mass. — A national fire safety group is weighing in after 25 Investigates uncovered some schools in Massachusetts are not following the law when it comes to fire drills.

We brought the results of our investigation to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), a Quincy-based non-profit organization dedicated to fire safety.

The Massachusetts Fire Code is based on the fire code developed by the NFPA.

Content Continues Below

The NFPA recommends schools conduct a fire drill every month, but Massachusetts only requires four drills per school year.

25 Investigates requested fire drill records from 25 school districts across Massachusetts.

We discovered some schools had only held one fire drill since the start of the school year. On the other end of the spectrum, William P. Gorman Fort Banks Elementary School in Winthrop held all four fire drills in less than a month.

Robert Solomon, a fire protection engineer at the NFPA, told Boston 25 News the inconsistency is cause for alarm.

“We want it to be a little fresher than kind of doing it all at once or having big gaps in between,” Solomon said.

Records showed Shawsheen Preschool and Bancroft Elementary School in Andover didn't run a fire drill until three months after classes began.

“We have new students coming in,” Solomon said. “We want them to get familiar with a little bit of the layout of the building and a little bit about the emergency procedures, including the drills, so again, it's important that there be some type of orientation to the drills within the first 30 days.”

Do you have a tip for a story that you think needs investigating?  Contact 25 Investigates or leave us a message at (800) 883-6925.  If your story is one we think we can dig into, we'll contact you back.

The Massachusetts Fire Code also requires schools to conduct a fire drill within the first three days of class, but the majority of records we received showed a lot of districts were not compliant.

We asked Massachusetts Fire Marshal Peter Ostroskey if he thought state regulators needed to do more. He told us he didn’t think more oversight was needed.

Solomon hopes our investigation serves as a warning for cities and towns not following the law.

“I think sometimes maybe [schools] get a little complacent,” Solomon said. “Some districts might say we haven't had a school fire here in 10 years. Again, they kind of forget about it. At the NFPA, we don't want people to forget.”

Solomon said the important thing is conversations about fire drills are happening.