Philadelphia holds citywide fire drill in effort to get families to practice their escape plan

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) — You may have heard some fire alarms in Philadelphia on Thursday night.

That’s because the Philadelphia Fire Department was hoping to conduct a citywide drill where families practice their escape plan in the event of a fire.

“A drill schedule makes it easier for people to remember exactly how to respond in the event of a fire,” said Assistant Fire Department Commissioner Jeffrey Thompson.

Firefighters also demonstrated how to respond to a house fire; This example was located to the north-east on Richton Road.

During the drill, the family got off to their rally point across the street and everyone was held accountable.

But accomplishing this during an active fire is easier said than done.

In January this year we were reminded of how tragic fires can be when 12 people, including 8 children, died when a Christmas tree caught fire in Fairmount.

Deputy Commissioner Thompson says surviving a fire begins before you go to sleep.

“Close your doors when you sleep at night. A closed door keeps smoke and fire out for a limited time,” Thompson said.

He says if you get trapped, you – and especially children – need to be prepared.

They need to know what to do when they can’t find mom or dad.

“You want to feel the door first. If it’s hot to the touch, it means a fire has advanced and you don’t want to open the door. What you should do then is call 911 and tell the dispatcher exactly where you are in the house,” Thompson said.

At practice on Thursday, we met Maureen Donahue, who knows all too well the importance of an escape plan.

She and her family are survivors of an apartment fire.

“Every time I hear the sirens, it brings tears to my eyes. The roof caught fire and spread to the neighbor’s roof,” Donahue said.

Because the Donahues were prepared, they are here today.

“The main thing is that we got our lives out. Things can be replaced, but family can’t,” Donahue said.

Also, smoke alarms are a crucial part of everyone’s safety. You are the first line of defense.

The city says if you need one, just call 311 and make an appointment.

The fire department will come out and put one on each floor if needed.

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