At some point in the first 10 days of this new school year, every public school in South Carolina is required to complete a fire drill. State law also requires one drill each month for the rest of the school year.
News 2 used the Freedom of Information Act to request the records from Charleston, Berkeley, and Dorchester District 2 schools for the 2012-2013 school year.
Of the 21 elementary, middle, and high schools in Dorchester District 2, 14 of them either skipped or did not have record of completing one of the required drills.
Knightsville Elementary, Reeves Elementary, and DuBose Middle missed five drills. Summerville High School missed the most in the district, at six.
Our request prompted a conversation between Mike Turner, Security Coordinator for DD2, and the district's principals.
“One of the first thins I told them was, look, 10 drills a year”, said Turner.
Just like Charleston County, DD2 officials believe it is not a matter of principals skipping the potentially life saving drills, but likely a clerical mistake.
“Be that as it may, it is being addressed”, Turner added.
The law requiring the monthly drills appears in both the International Building Code 2012 that South Carolina lawmakers adopted as law. It is repeated in the State Code covering school safety (59-63-910). That law has not been updated since the 1960s.
Turner agrees with others who say the law needs to be updated to incorporate an “all hazards” approach. That means also drilling for lockdowns, earthquakes, and tornados.
“We live in an area where there are a multitude of hazards that can affect our schools, but doing the fire drills is the law, and they need to be done”, said Turner.
Turner added, drills and their importance are going to be a constant conversation throughout the new school year.