Math and biology students who created the Geometry of Anatomy Escape Room at Animas High School learned one additional lesson from the project: It pays to research the fire code.
The Escape Room required groups to solve several puzzles, many math-based, which eventually led to a key to unlock the door of the room.
“In a school scenario, you can never lock kids in – there are a lot of safety rules for that,” said Fire Marshal Karola Hanks with the Durango Fire Protection District. “And they modified the exiting for the building, which took it out of code.”
The DFPD worked with the students to keep the room open in a modified form, Hanks said.
“They just weren’t able to lock people in,” she said. “And we worked with them to make sure people were able to exit the building. It was a complete learning experience for the kids and the teachers.”
The escape room was a temporary installation, open one week for play testing, one week for the full-scale escape experience and a behind-the-scenes how-it-came-together presentation at the All-School Exhibit on May 12. “Because it was on the front page of the paper (The Durango Herald, May 2), the code compliance had to be addressed,” Hanks said. “We were worried other schools would see that and want to do something similar. Students need to plan ahead and confer with the building inspector for their school building before they spend any money or time.”
A commercial escape room is preparing to open in downtown Durango, Hanks said, and the DFPD is working with it to comply with the fire code.
“There has to always be a way a person can just walk out,” she said, “and in this case, it’s with the understanding that the experience is then over. We’re not treating the kids any differently than we are treating a commercial business.”
Hanks hopes this is a lesson the whole community learns.
“Part of the policy we have at the DFPD is that we would like to work with people up front,” she said. “If they have questions, we hope they’ll pick up the phone and ask. We’re more than willing to help.”