Why Fire Drills Matter: 5+ Reasons You Need Them

why are fire drills important

In the US, fire departments respond to around 350,000 house fires annually. And the estimated rate is an average of one every 23 seconds.

No one finds joy in going through a disaster preparation exercise, and they can even cause a smidgen of anxiety. But, they are necessary in an unpredictable world where a fire is just another thing we can’t control.

Why are fire drills important?

Fire drills have been part of our lives since elementary school. Typically, teachers and students had a little forewarning, and it was always sort of fun to spend a class period outside. 

Let’s look at what makes home fire drills important and how you can better prepare for an emergency.

5 Reasons Why Fire Drills Are Important

Fire Alarm Condition

Testing the fire alarms periodically will ensure they are working in the case of an emergency. Often, the blaring and annoying sound are the first warning families have of a house fire.

During a home fire drill, testing an alarm gives everyone a sense of what the sound is like and how to respond. And it lets you know if the batteries are still working.

Roles and Responsibilities During the Response

You reduce the chances of confusion during an emergency when conducting fire drills. Each individual understands their role, who the leader is, and expectations.

Practice Makes Calmer

Practice makes fire drills smoother. The repetition enforces the need to think clearly during an emergency and reveals any weaknesses in the plan. One mistake during the real thing can cost lives.

Feel Safe and Secure

Everyone wants their family to feel safe and secure in their own home. A fire drill plan might not seem like a lot, but it is one less thing a child has to worry about at night.

Finding Cracks in the Plan

The more practical fire dill, the better. When you overcomplicate, you aren’t just ensuring failure; it may put people at risk. Sometimes the only way to find redundancy or weakness is to run through a fire drill regularly.

Do fire drills save lives?

In 1958, 92 children lost their lives during a schoolhouse fire. Because of that, fire drills have become a part of a child’s educational experience. And there has not been a fire casualty at school since then.

How to Keep Fire Drills Simple

 A fire drill must be easy to understand and follow whether you’re running through it with children or employees.


You don’t have to have a detailed map of your home to have a clear plan. The National Fire Protection Association offers children-friendly PDFs that not only lay out a home fire escape plan but also provides an easy-to-understand map grid.

Practice Twice a Year

It doesn’t take dozens of practice fire drills to get it down. Doing it twice a year keeps the plan fresh in people’s minds and finds ways to make it smoother.

Also, you will want to take this time to teach children how to escape on their own in case they can’t get to you.

The Address

Children and employees should know the physical address by heart so there is no hesitation in passing on the emergency location.

You want the fire and police departments to know where to stop. Fires aren’t always blazing and lighting up the sky. Mark it as clearly as possible. 

How do I practice a fire drill at home?

Your twice-a-year plan will likely differ from your neighbor’s plan. But, there are basics that all fire drills should include.

  1. You will start the fire drill by pushing the fire alarm button. A smoke detector is often the first sign of trouble.
  2. We never know where we will be when a fire breaks out. Practice the quickest escape from every room in the house or building.
  3. You will want to make sure that everyone can open windows and doors and that there is an emergency release for security bars.
  4. When you run through a fire drill, make it a habit to close doors. It can buy a few seconds by slowing the smoke, heat, and fire.
  5. A fire drill must include a meeting place everyone can get to. If someone isn’t there, you can alert the emergency responders.
  6. Ensure that everyone understands to call 911 once they are outside and safe. 

It’s never a bad idea to time the fire drill. You can find ways to make it faster and easier when practicing (no need to break out fancy fire equipment).

Why is it important to practice a fire drill?

  • It gives you a chance to check the condition of smoke detectors.
  • A fire drill gives individuals clarity about who the leader is.
  • Practice makes perfect.
  • When people feel safer, they are happier.
  • You want the most effective fire drill plan; running through it will reveal any weaknesses.

FAQs about Fire Drills

How often do fire drills happen?

Some say once a year is adequate. But, practicing a fire drill twice a year allows you to test it during the day and at night. Twice-a-year run-throughs also keep the emergency response fresh in their minds.

Will a closed door stop a fire?

Part of a fire drill is getting to know the doors and windows in a building. The main reason is that a closed door will starve a fire of fresh fuel and buy someone extra seconds to escape.
It won’t stop a fire, but a closed door does make a difference.

Why should I take fire drills seriously?

It’s been a habit for most of our lives to make fun of fire drills. But they aren’t funny. It is proven that school fire drills have saved lives for fifty years. 

The chances of a devastating fire are low, but you don’t want to be the one caught off guard.

Should a fire drill be a surprise?

It may feel like a good idea to test emergency awareness, but a surprise fire drill will only cause unneeded anxiety and chaos. 
You also don’t want anyone calling 911 and falsely reporting an emergency.

By Anita Brown

Anita Brown is our go-to contributor to our emergency preparedness website. Anita brings a wealth of personal experience and professional expertise to the table, having weathered several awful natural disasters. Anita is currently working towards obtaining her Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) certification.