New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

Off-Third: NYU to use students as human fire extinguishers following policy change

Through combat, singing and the NYU spirit, there’s a new way to fight fires — Violet-style.
Eileen Liu
A fire drill was held in the Paulson Center in the afternoon on Nov. 1. (Eileen Liu for WSN)

On Nov. 1, NYU administrators announced a new fire evacuation policy at the Paulson Center: not evacuating at all.

Instead, when a fire alarm sounds, every student in the building is to report to the second floor where they will work to actively fight the fire. The university said that as the colder weather comes upon us, keeping students inside during fires will help keep them warm while saving on heating costs.

“I mean, who likes waiting outside in the cold?” an NYU spokesperson said. “Between the body heat from such close quarters and the approaching fire, our students won’t even know it’s 30 degrees outside.”

The announcement of this plan came during a fire drill on Wednesday afternoon. Many students were forced to abandon their midterms, presentations and lectures for the drill, which was met with mixed reactions. 

“I saw my friend through the crowd,” a Steinhardt sophomore said. “It was too packed to go and say hi, but that was cool, I guess.”

Another student noted the positives of exploring Paulson. “My class is on the third floor, but I didn’t realize there was a cafe right here,” he said. “Do you think I can still grab a bagel, or are the employees practicing fire safety, too?”

Not all of the reactions to the new policy were so positive, however. “Wait, we aren’t allowed to leave?” a CAS senior said. “Why is everyone okay with this? Is this a sick joke?”

During the drill, a fire safety officer — who introduced himself only as “Fire Safety Man” — explained that in the event of a fire, there would now be three main ways to fight it. They were all centered around the student body and staff working together. 

In the event the fire was more contained, students were shown how to operate a fire extinguisher. Fire Safety Man asked for assistance and called on a volunteer. The LS first-year who hesitantly raised their hand was brought to the front of the crowd, where their pant leg was lit on fire before it was quickly put out.

When asked for a comment, the student said, “It hurt.”

If the fire was yet to reach the second floor of Paulson, Fire Safety Man instructed students to sing to keep the fire away. The idea was that since New York is filled with traffic, sometimes the Fire Department takes too long to come, so the student body’s melodious voices would be key to keeping the fire at bay.

“You’re all Tisch, right?” Fire Safety Man asked. “No? Well, you’re NYU kids, so you’ve got good voices.”

Students and staff were then instructed to sing in harmony, “Fire, fire, go away. Come again another day.”

“It’s tentative, of course,” Fire Safety Man said. “It’s a work in progress, but that’ll be the base of it.” 

If all else failed, students, packed together like sardines on the second floor, would overwhelm the fire — inherently putting it out with their bodies.

Beyond combat and song, NYU insisted that the main way to help stop the spread of the fire would be through Violet spirit. An NYU spokesperson explained that since NYU has fallen in the U.S. News & World Report’s national university rankings, they are actively trying to promote school spirit. Working together to wish away the fire is just the start. 

The university insists that they hope the Paulson Center will not catch fire in the near future, especially because the building is so new and expensive. But, in the event it happens, the students will work together to fight it. Who needs firefighters, anyway?

Off-Third is WSN’s satire column.

WSN’s Opinion section strives to publish ideas worth discussing. The views presented in the Opinion section are solely the views of the writer.

Contact Emily Genova at [email protected].

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About the Contributors
Emily Genova
Emily Genova, Managing Editor
Emily Genova is a senior studying Media, Culture, and Communication and Creative Writing. She spends her free time reading, obsessing over pop artists and speed walking around campus. You can find her on Instagram @emilygenova or email her at [email protected]
Eileen Liu
Eileen Liu, Social Media Editor
Eileen Liu is a junior majoring in Media, Culture, and Communication and minoring in Business of Entertainment, Media, and Technology. She is from a small town in northern Connecticut, famous for its amazing cow manure smell and corn fields. She is a proud first-generation Taiwanese American, and is always willing to go on a boba or coffee run — a necessity for the all-nighters she often pulls. You can find her on Instagram @eileenl03.

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    Patrick Shaughnessy IIINov 4, 2023 at 8:09 am

    Just brilliant, so funny, thank you! Your title had me reeled in instantly!

    Please come to Chicago and enliven my company’s dry technical manuals! 🙂