A couple of weeks ago my school held a fire drill, that is too say that a few days before hand we had a fire drill rehearsal where we practiced having a fire drill... which is in itself a practice for a real fire so we practiced having a practice of a real event... this might sound redundant but I suppose there is no harm in being redundant when it comes to saving your life. During the rehearsal I was lucky enough to be the first person down the emergency chute
from the fourth floor, which was actually a lot of fun. On actual fire drill day the buzzer sounded and all the students and teachers filed out in full Japanese efficiency to the outer field, all while still wearing their inside shoes so as to simulate what we would do if this was an actual fire. Other then the rehearsal this was very much the same as fire drills I remember from back home, however after a customary count off and reporting on how long we took to evacuate the building the similarities ended.
We were then treated to several speeches in Japanese from both the headmaster and the fire chief after which all the students were divided into three groups. Group 1 went to go watch student volunteers being rescued from the third floor by the ladder truck, a demonstration that ended with the finale of the last student getting to ride to the ladders full 45 meters. Group 2 went to go and participate in the emergency chute demonstration that I participated in during rehearsal. And I went with Group 3, where we practiced yelling "FIRE!!" and putting out a real fire with fire extinguishers.
So as you can see fire drills in Japan are quite involved, in total we had a least a dozen fire fighters, a ladder truck, a tanker truck, the fire chief and an ambulance on site. All I can say is that if the school would actually catch fire, a dubious prospect given the fact that the entire building is made of concrete, that some this "training" kicks in and everyone gets out safe and sound.
p.s. as for the post title, 119 is what you dial here in an emergency... as opposed to 911.
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