Fort Wayne Southwick students learn to escape danger in WOWO’s 71st citywide fire drill

Fort Wayne Fire Capt. Jonathan Flickinger gets a high-five from Southwick Elementary School students as they return to their classrooms Wednesday morning after the 71st annual citywide fire drill. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of The News-Sentinel)
Two Southwick Elementary School students didn't like the loud fire alarm going off at the school Wednesday morning during the 71st annual citywide fire drill. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of The News-Sentinel)
Fort Wayne Fire Department Capt. Mark Claus talks to Southwick Elementary Students, from left, Su Watts, Nay Naing and Zya Dupree, all 7, about their school-contest winning route evacuation plans Wednesday before the 71st annual citywide fire drill hosted by WOWO. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of The News-Sentinel)
Fort Wayne Fire Department Capt. Mark Claus helps Southwick Elementary Students, from left, Zya Dupree, Su Watts and Nay Naing, all 7, operate the fire alarm Wednesday during the 71st annual citywide fire drill hosted by WOWO. The fire department used a machine to fill the school with non-toxic "smoke." (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of The News-Sentinel)
Southwick Elementary School student Su Watts, 7, looks to see what's next during the 71st annual citywide fire drill, hosted by WOWO, after she helped pull the alarm. The Fort Wayne Fire Department blew non-toxic "smoke" into the school during the exercise. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of The News-Sentinel)
WOWO morning show host Charly Butcher reports his show Wednesday morning from Southwick Elementary School during the radio station-sponsored 71st annual citywide fire drill. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of The News-Sentinel)
The hallway outside the office at Southwick Elementary School quickly disappeared amid fake smoke as a Fort Wayne Fire Department truck responded during the 71st annual citywide fire drill. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of The News-Sentinel)
Fort Wayne Fire Department firefighters responded in full gear, left, Wednesday morning during the 71st annual citywide fire drill at Southwick Elementary School. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of The News-Sentinel)
Southwick Elementary School students come back into the school Wednesday morning during the 71st annual citywide fire drill. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of The News-Sentinel)
A boy at Southwick Elementary School swats away the fake smoke Wednesday morning during the 71st annual citywide fire drill. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of The News-Sentinel)
A Southwick Elementary School student covers her ears as she comes back into the school Wednesday morning as the fire alarm sounds during the 71st annual citywide fire drill. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of The News-Sentinel)
Fort Wayne Fire Department Pvt. Mark Kuehnert turns on a fan to get rid of some of the fake smoke used Wednesday morning at Southwick Elementary School during the 71st annual citywide fire drill. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of The News-Sentinel)
Southwick Elementary School learn to find a route of escape from fire Wednesday morning during the 71st annual citywide fire drill. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of The News-Sentinel)

It was loud and smoky as Southwick Elementary students took part in the 71st annual citywide fire drill hosted by WOWO in some pretty lifelike circumstances.

Nay Naing, Zya Dupree and Su Watts, all 7, had the honors of pulling the school’s fire alarm as the Fort Wayne Fire Department poured nontoxic “smoke” into a hallway. The principal had chosen the trio’s entries in a schoolwide contest to draw an evacuation plan. The hallway quickly disappeared as the “smoke” floated through the school, 6500 Wayne Trace. Teachers led the 630 students out the doors in 2 minutes and 10 seconds as the fire alarm buzzed and flashes of light from a strobe broke through the haze. Firefighters from Station No. 9 drove into the parking lot with lights flashing and the siren blaring. The firefighters came through a side door and crawled along the floor in full gear, just as they would in a real-life situation at a smoke-filled school fire.

The drill, held in schools throughout the city simultaneously, is designed to teach students the importance of having two routes of escape at home and getting out quickly during a blaze, said Fort Wayne Fire Department Assistant Chief Jim Murua. “We’ll take care of the fire.”

The drill coincides with National Fire Prevention Week, which began Sunday and runs through Saturday.

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