Fire Alarm WTF



  • The fire alarm system at my workplace has an odd design. When it goes off, first it plays a recorded bell sound three times. Not a proper alarm bell; actually it kind of sounds like the bell sound you get in Windows when a warning dialog pops up. Then, there's a recorded message in a calm woman's voice, which goes something like this:

    The warning tone you have just heard indicates that an emergency has been reported in one or more parts of the building. When this message completes, the affected areas will be indicated. Employees in unaffected parts of the building should continue working while awaiting updates. Employees in affected parts of the building, including handicapped employees, should follow the evacuation plan.

    This is repeated three or four times, to give the emergency time to get farther out of control. Only when it is completed does an actual alarm tone sound (I believe this can be set for certain areas only) along with flashing lights. In cases when it was a drill or false alarm (as it has been every time I've heard it) the alarms may continue to play audible static for as much as several hours afterward.

    Also, this same system is frequently used to report cars parked illegally or with their headlights on. ("Will the owner of a gray Ford Focus with license number...")



  • Ours starts flashing the emergency lights and plays a Red Alert1 sound 3 times before a message stating what the emergency is and where to go. ("A fire has been reported in the building. Please use the stairwells to exit the building." or "A tornado has been spotted nearby. Please move to the designated shelter areas." or some such shit)

    It then repeats the sound and message.

    I guess we have a non-WTF system where I work.

    1 Not the Red Alert sound from Star Trek, but it sounds similar.





  • Yeah, that's actually giving you useful information immediately. They ever use it to report non-emergencies?



  • @Robert_Morson said:

    >Employees in unaffected parts of the building should continue working while awaiting updates.

    It's a fire alarm (at least as described in the OP). What part of a building is ever unaffected by a fire in the building? Even if the fire is extinguished before it spreads to some part of the building, smoke, carbon monoxide or hazardous fumes from burning materials may spread. Safety demands that the entire building be evacuated.



  • Well, Fire is what it says on the red devices mounted on the walls. The message, as you point out, does sound as if they intend to use it for multiple types of disaster if they happen. It's generic enough that you have no idea what the problem is -- bomb threat? poison gas? armed, disgruntled, former employee? Actually, shouldn't all of those require evacuating the entire building? I don't know what was going through the minds of the people who designed this.



  • I've only ever heard it used for those two types.

    Having said that, there have only been two real incidents that it has been used for since I started working in this building 6 years ago:

    1. A (small?) fire broke out in the basement executive-level garage.
    2. A tornado was spotted in the area.

    All other incidents were drills, or in one case, a bagel getting caught in the cafeteria's bagel toaster and starting to smoke.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @Robert_Morson said:

    The fire alarm system at my workplace has an odd design.

    Sounds like the people who designed the building were fans of this guy:

    Monty Python- Architect Sketch – 04:38
    — MontyPythone


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @Robert_Morson said:

    This is repeated three or four times, to give the emergency time to get farther out of control.

    We also have a multi-stage alarm. The first stage uses an intermittent alarm, and is can either be triggered manually or automatically (e.g., by sensors on fire exits and smoke alarms) and is so that people with mobility difficulties can be evacuated safely. It's also what goes off while the security staff check out whether it is a real problem, or whether someone's just burnt some toast again. Back when I was an evacuation warden, we also had the rule that intermittent alarms meant that we were supposed to find our high-visibility kit.

    If the problem is confirmed, an ear-splitting full alarm is sounded. That's when everyone needs to get out, and evacuation wardens need to go round and check for people who aren't moving (for various stupid reasons IME).

    We've had a few real evacuations over the years. The only really serious one was for a gas leak when they were digging up the site for a building next door, and that was right next to the assembly point. The problem there? Lots of people immediately start smoking as soon as they step outside. Bright idea when there's gas about, real smart…



  • @dkf said:

    Lots of people immediately start smoking as soon as they step outside. Bright idea when there's gas about, real smart…

    Well, that's one way to encourage people to quit.



  • "We filled a room with a combination of methane and chain smokers! You wouldn't believe what happened next!"

    <They died of suffocation, obviously.>



  • @ben_lubar said:

    "We filled a room with a combination of methane and chain smokers! You wouldn't believe what happened next!"

    <They died of suffocation, obviously.>

    Curiously, that last line isn't visible in the original post. And the cause of death would be inert gas asphyxiation, as I'm sure you're aware.



  • @Steve_The_Cynic said:

    Curiously, that last line isn't visible in the original post

    It's because it's in a (invalid) tag. Discourse hides it but it still shows up in the raw. I guess reply->quote uses the raw?



  • Ummm, I'm guessing a second Big Bang



  • This post is deleted!



Log in to reply
 

Looks like your connection to What the Daily WTF? was lost, please wait while we try to reconnect.