What is a “fire drill”?

The phrase “fire drill” is used in Corporate America often to refer to events that were a complete waste of time. What often happens is that people think that there is a problem at work, but then it turns out that there actually is no problem – just a misunderstanding. This is called a “fire drill”.

The reason it’s called a “fire drill” is because the literal meaning of fire drill is an exercise used to prepare for a fire. So, in case there ever is a fire, people often prepare by doing whatever they normally would when there is a real fire – by evacuating a building, grabbing a fire extinguisher, etc.

In the corporate world, the meaning of fire drill has been modified to suggest that any activity that is a waste of time is called a “fire drill”, because when people think that there is a problem but there is not, it is like people are preparing for a real fire, or going through a fire drill.

Here’s an example of it’s usage:

“Fire Drill” In a Sentence

"Today my boss Joe told me that there was a bug in our software.  It was a fire drill because there actually was no bug, just a problem with his understanding.  What a waste of time!   "

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