Prairie River Middle School practices surprise fire drillSubmitted: 10/06/2016
Lane Kimble
Lane Kimble
News Director

Prairie River Middle School practices surprise fire drill
MERRILL - Alarms went off at Prairie River Middle School, kids raced out, and only Ryan Martinovici knew what was really going on.

"They didn't give me much warning," Martinovici said.

The middle school principal learned about a surprise fire drill from the Merrill Fire Department just a few hours earlier in the day Thursday. To make sure the drill was a surprise, Martinovici didn't tell any students or teachers.

"Anybody that works in a school will tell you that each and every day is different and it's meeting the needs of our students," Martinovici said.

The exercise was the yearly surprise drill the MFD runs at each school in the area. Prairie River has a lot of students to get out of the building in a short amount of time. About 660 kids made it outside in just two minutes and 15 seconds.

"It's a large old building and we just want to make sure that we're safe," Martinovici said.

Battalion Chief Mike Drury taped off two stairwells before the drill to simulate fire blocking an exit.

"This is about as close as you can to not put anyone in danger," Drury said. "To put fake smoke in the building doesn't pay, so just to get the teachers and the kids to think. They did an awesome job."

Prairie View practices fire and tornado drills once a month during the school year. In accordance with state law, those drills then get checked off on a sheet. The drills can eat up classroom time, but the staff knows the drills are worth it.

"Children in these schools, you have to do these drills to keep them safe," Drury said.

"I know it's safety and protection, but that is a big priority here," Martinovici said.

Drury calls the middle school one of the "highest-hazard buildings" in town. He said Thursday's exit time was one of the fastest he's seen for a school its size.

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