Thursday, November 24, 2011

Fire drill at a Japanese elementary school

NEC_0001Japanese fire drills are not too different from the 100 or so I experienced during my public schooling in the US. Kids walk out single-file with their teachers as quickly, orderly, and quietly as possible but this is kind of where the similarities end for me.

One interesting quirk about official disaster drills in Japan is that most staff or people in positions of power have a hard helmet ready for times like these. It doesn’t matter if its an earthquake drill or fire drill, the helmets are worn. I guess its great for worst case scenarios where you are a bit late in evacuating the building for clear grounds, but in most cases you probably won’t even have time to retrieve your helmet. I know I won’t as I am never at my desk when these things happen.


The students also wear something on their head. Every student has a seat cushion that doubles as a semi fire-resistant, debris protection apparatus. It looks kind of ridiculous and I doubt very much that it will help much in times of fire if the cushion is still over the fire retardant material. As for quakes with the cushion, well… it might help make identification of the victims after rescue crews pick through debris.

Differences aside, the kids are pretty well drilled about evacuating and they do a really good job getting out in an orderly and timely manner. I always enjoy the small demonstrations they have with the local fire fighters. Its fun to watch them put out oil fires with fire extinguishers. Japanese fire trucks sure are cute and tiny. Open-mouthed smile


  1. Do you know if the size of the fire trucks are based on the size of the buildings around the area?

    It seems like the ladder can't extend that far, but I imagine it wouldn't need to in a more rural area.

  2. I kind of knew there were various sizes of firetrucks depending on the areas they served. The same thing must apply here as well.

    A lot of the micro trucks are also privately owned by local fire fighting "clubs" for lack of a better word. Most home and large land owners are pushed hard to join the local volunteer fire fighting training events as most city trucks either A: are unable to make it in time, or B: larger trucks are unable to navigate narrow roads.

    In the case of narrow roads, very long hoses from pump trucks are used along with smaller supply trucks that can handle smaller house fires.

    Most residences and offices near here are at most 2 stores high so a small ladder like the one on the truck is probably sufficient. Honestly can't say for sure though...

    I just think is cute how small the trucks can get here. They are not much bigger than a family van in most cases like the one pictured above.

    Great reply. Thanks!