Teachers ignore fire alarms

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Teachers ignore fire alarms

Postby General_Norris » Mon May 03, 2010 12:13 pm UTC

There has only been one teacher in my whole life who responded to the fire alarm going off. Most say "We will stand up when the other teachers do" meaning that nobody ever stand up because they will waste their precious lessons because of something as petty as this. I have always confronted those teachers only to be mocked up.

Why? I really ask, why? Sooner or later there's going to be a real fire and dozen of students are going to die because their teacher is stupid and that's not good at all. How widespread is this? What can I do to solve this? Tell the Dean that a certain teacher is ignoring the alarms?

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Re: Teachers ignore fire alarms

Postby Robstickle » Mon May 03, 2010 12:18 pm UTC

In my personal experience I've never met a teacher with that attitude. We were even told to leave a GCSE exam when it went of (although it might have been a mock, I really don't remember).

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Re: Teachers ignore fire alarms

Postby TaintedDeity » Mon May 03, 2010 1:16 pm UTC

My teachers have responded to every single fire alarm I can think of, even when the fire alarm sound wasn't sounding to protocol. (which annoyed me, I thought it was just a random alarm)
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Re: Teachers ignore fire alarms

Postby blue_eyedspacemonkey » Mon May 03, 2010 1:26 pm UTC

My uni does a 'delayed response' to fire alarms. I've never heard a fire alarm (in lectures/exams, different story for halls), but the protocol is to verify it's a real fire/alarm worthy situation before evacuating.
In school there was only one time where the teacher tried to delay us leaving in response to a fire alarm, the new headmistress was sitting in on a maths lesson and wanted us to contine the class, even though everyone else was filing out. After a minute the maths teacher overrode her authority and evacuated the class. No one actually liked her.
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Re: Teachers ignore fire alarms

Postby DSenette » Mon May 03, 2010 2:51 pm UTC

i've never seen this happen in a school setting. but at the manufacturing facility that i work at, it happens A LOT.

i work in an aluminum casting facility, the places is literally FILLED with things that can/will/do explode. we have one process that makes thermite all day long and stores it in a 50 gallon drum, yeah, THERMITE! this process is also the most likely to ignite without warning and has done so a few times since i've been here.

the fire alarm will go off, and people will just stand there looking like idiots waiting for the guy next to them to walk out the door. the japanese guys that work here are the worst. during one of the last "thermite events" the fire marshal had to send in a team to force the japanese guys to leave the building, they almost had to handcuff one of them to get out.

what's our society come to that we are so focused on working that we can't even listen to pre-defined warning systems?
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Re: Teachers ignore fire alarms

Postby EdgarJPublius » Mon May 03, 2010 4:21 pm UTC

to be fair, there's been significant conditioning not to trust the pre-defined warning system, what with all the hooligans pulling fire alarm levers and other false alarms/malfunctions.

It seems like the cost of all the false alarms has to be humongous, an improved commercial fire system that reduces false alarms would probably be worth quite a bit of money.
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Re: Teachers ignore fire alarms

Postby modularblues » Mon May 03, 2010 5:23 pm UTC

In my lab building, which contains a nanofabrication facility, people ignore fire alarms at their peril -- because it usually means real flash fires or explosion from the deliciously toxic gases combo.

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Re: Teachers ignore fire alarms

Postby Aikanaro » Mon May 03, 2010 8:20 pm UTC

My HS was comprised of separate buildings, so just because an alarm went off one place, didn't mean I was around to hear the alarm. That said, I remember one time that apparently someone SET a fire in a boiler room (for some reason, it sticks in my memory that a sock was involved.....maybe soaked in gasoline?), alarms were set off, fire was put out quickly.....and a lot of teachers never bothered interrupting class. I recall one classmate of mine mentioning later, "Yeah, I'm dead now, didn't you hear? There was a fire, we weren't called outside, and I died in it. So I'm dead now. Think I can skip class?" :roll:
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Re: Teachers ignore fire alarms

Postby '; DROP DATABASE;-- » Tue May 04, 2010 12:20 pm UTC

I would raise pretty severe amounts of hell if a teacher ever ignored a fire alarm while I was around.
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Re: Teachers ignore fire alarms

Postby Adacore » Tue May 04, 2010 1:04 pm UTC

Unless a fire alarm is publicly announced beforehand as a scheduled test, I've never seen one ignored completely, especially not at school. I think one afternoon at work our alarm system malfunctioned, and they actually evacuated the office for the whole afternoon.

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Re: Teachers ignore fire alarms

Postby JayAr » Tue May 04, 2010 5:15 pm UTC

Doesn't this belong in the school area of the forums?
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Re: Teachers ignore fire alarms

Postby Adacore » Tue May 04, 2010 5:32 pm UTC

JayAr wrote:Doesn't this belong in the school area of the forums?

That depends if the topic is defined as explicitly relating to schools/teachers. It could be classified that way, but it already encompasses a couple of posts about fire alarms at workplaces, &c.

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Re: Teachers ignore fire alarms

Postby Sungura » Tue May 04, 2010 5:33 pm UTC

In school we always had to do the drills...I don't remember ever ignoring them. We had fire drills and tornado drills.

Now I work in a hospital so we have a lot of codes, and we have to know how to respond to each code, even though I'm just in the basement in a research lab in a section that patients never get to and it is locked off with a computer chip sort of entry system thingie. But still, I know the tower and sector I'm in.

Code red (fire) you have to evacuate if it is your sector, or a sector next to, above, or below you.
Code blue (heart attack) I don't do anything about, there are teams to respond to that.
Code green is assault, which if it's in your sector you are to go help if you can but usually the cops handle it. Usually it's a patient gone berserk, it's not uncommon for someone to get upset and attack a doctor...or we do have a psych ward too and every once-in-a-while someone gets out who is not stable. But usually this code is for one of those two sorts of cases where is is someone gone a bit haywire and unruly and fighting off docs/nurses so if you can get there to help control the situation in any way you are supposed to respond.
Code silver was introduced more recently. A few years ago there was a code green and the police (yes, we have our own police) responded but it was an off-duty cop who brought in his son (?) and wasn't happy with something or other and drew his weapon...and the VA police didn't have weapons at the time (I think they had tazers was all) which didn't go over so well! So they added Code silver which is assault with a deadly weapon - code silvers general employees do not respond to.
Code white is a stroke/other medical emergency, again gen employees don't do anything there are doc/nurse teams for it

Then there are the plans...
Echo is a bomb threat, but that gets called to each lab individually because someone figured out you could set it hooked up to go off when the PA system announced it. Lot of good the call does. Last drill they did for plan echo by the time our lab was called, the all-clear had been called! So I guess we would have been toast.
Plan foxtrot is a weather emergency, like a tornado or something.

I forget all the others offhand but there are about 10 or 12 in total, these are just the ones we hear called. And all of them get tested and if you don't do it right you get docked. Our lab got docked once because one of the guys in it wouldn't leave (it was a code red) because he was in the middle of an experiment.

In just my approx 8 months of working there, I've heard countless Code Blues, 2 Code Greens, and a smattering of Code Reds. Some are just drills, some are real. The most interesting was 3 code blues called within 10 min, and since I saw two of them, at least 2 were real.
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Re: Teachers ignore fire alarms

Postby General_Norris » Tue May 04, 2010 5:57 pm UTC

Sungura wrote:In school we always had to do the drills...I don't remember ever ignoring them. We had fire drills and tornado drills.


Most of the time the teachers, albeit reluctantly followed the drills. The problem is that they ignored the ones that were not drills. :cry:

BTW, that was a very intersting post.

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Re: Teachers ignore fire alarms

Postby Adacore » Tue May 04, 2010 6:40 pm UTC

Sungura wrote:Then there are the plans...
Echo is a bomb threat, but that gets called to each lab individually because someone figured out you could set it hooked up to go off when the PA system announced it. Lot of good the call does. Last drill they did for plan echo by the time our lab was called, the all-clear had been called! So I guess we would have been toast.

That sounds like somebody's been overthinking the drills a bit - surely it's more sensible to evacuate quickly than to worry about the (presumably minuscule) chance that the bomb has been rigged to the PA system?

And I agree with General_Norris - very interesting!

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Re: Teachers ignore fire alarms

Postby Sungura » Tue May 04, 2010 6:43 pm UTC

Adacore wrote:
Sungura wrote:Then there are the plans...
Echo is a bomb threat, but that gets called to each lab individually because someone figured out you could set it hooked up to go off when the PA system announced it. Lot of good the call does. Last drill they did for plan echo by the time our lab was called, the all-clear had been called! So I guess we would have been toast.

That sounds like somebody's been overthinking the drills a bit - surely it's more sensible to evacuate quickly than to worry about the (presumably minuscule) chance that the bomb has been rigged to the PA system?

And I agree with General_Norris - very interesting!
I am pretty sure the change happened after someone threatened it...so it makes sense to change it? Still they need to work on the feasibility, obviously.
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Re: Teachers ignore fire alarms

Postby EdgarJPublius » Tue May 04, 2010 10:51 pm UTC

General_Norris wrote:
Sungura wrote:In school we always had to do the drills...I don't remember ever ignoring them. We had fire drills and tornado drills.


Most of the time the teachers, albeit reluctantly followed the drills. The problem is that they ignored the ones that were not drills. :cry:

BTW, that was a very intersting post.


In elementary school, I had to follow a fire drill even though I was laying down in the nurse's office with a concussion, waiting for my parents to arrive. That was not fun.

In high school, Even thought he fire drills weren't supposed to be announced beforehand, it was pretty obvious upon arriving when one was going to happen, the teachers apparently knew beforehand and, realizing that a fire drill meant that second, and probably third periods would be a complete write off, just wouldn't have anything planned. When the drill actually occured, everyone would be pretty efficient, if slow about going about the drill. The rest of the day was generally fairly useless too, as at least a quarter of the students just didn't come back to class after the drill ended.

The rest of the time, the teachers and staff actually seemed to have a very efficient system for identifying false alarms, that had little or nothing to do with the actual fire alarm system, and which no student (that I am aware of) ever figured out.
Basically, when there was a false alarm, the teachers would wait, maybe poke their head out the door to see what was going on, and resume class, if anybody complained (which they usually did) the teacher would just say something 'It's a false alarm, some kid pulled the alarm handle, nothing to worry about' and go back to teaching class, then a short while later the alarm would stop and someone would come on the PA to say it was a false alarm. (this happened quite a lot actually)
On the few occasions I remember there being a real fire though (such as one memorable event where someone tossed a lit cigarette into a bathroom trashcan, leading to the bathroom being completely destroyed and camera's being placed around the school, pointed at the bathroom doors) The teachers didn't seem to wait, or at least not nearly as long, and quickly ushered everyone outside, much faster than during the fire drills too.
Still not quite sure how they seemed to be able to tell the difference though.
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Re: Teachers ignore fire alarms

Postby scienceroboticspunk » Wed May 05, 2010 2:11 am UTC

My school is almost always fast at fire drills, and they never last more than 5 min cause they can evacuate all 2500 students in that time then get them back in.
Only once in my life that I remember did the teachers ignore a fire alarm and that was because the PA came on warning them, and saying to ignore it.
I think we even evacuated AP tests during a fire drill, granted I think someone falsely pulled the fire alarm, but still, we take our drills seriously.
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Re: Teachers ignore fire alarms

Postby keeneal » Wed May 05, 2010 8:12 am UTC

I've never seen an alarm ignored anywhere - high school, university, nothing. Even when they're caused by hair straighteners in an adjoining hall at 4 AM.
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Re: Teachers ignore fire alarms

Postby Carnildo » Wed May 05, 2010 9:05 am UTC

General_Norris wrote:
Sungura wrote:In school we always had to do the drills...I don't remember ever ignoring them. We had fire drills and tornado drills.


Most of the time the teachers, albeit reluctantly followed the drills. The problem is that they ignored the ones that were not drills. :cry:

Where I went to school, no teacher ever decided on their own to ignore an alarm. "Endangering students" was one of the few things that a teacher could be fired on the spot for.

That's not to say that alarms were never ignored -- the high school I went to was being expanded for most of the time I went there, which generated large numbers of false alarms. Standing policy was that after the alarm went off, you were to wait 30 seconds for it to be countermanded over the PA before evacuating.

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Re: Teachers ignore fire alarms

Postby Arancaytar » Wed May 05, 2010 10:06 am UTC

Sungura wrote:Code red (fire) you have to evacuate if it is your sector, or a sector next to, above, or below you.
Code blue (heart attack) I don't do anything about, there are teams to respond to that.
Code green is assault, which if it's in your sector you are to go help if you can but usually the cops handle it. Usually it's a patient gone berserk, it's not uncommon for someone to get upset and attack a doctor...or we do have a psych ward too and every once-in-a-while someone gets out who is not stable. But usually this code is for one of those two sorts of cases where is is someone gone a bit haywire and unruly and fighting off docs/nurses so if you can get there to help control the situation in any way you are supposed to respond.
Code silver was introduced more recently. A few years ago there was a code green and the police (yes, we have our own police) responded but it was an off-duty cop who brought in his son (?) and wasn't happy with something or other and drew his weapon...and the VA police didn't have weapons at the time (I think they had tazers was all) which didn't go over so well! So they added Code silver which is assault with a deadly weapon - code silvers general employees do not respond to.
Code white is a stroke/other medical emergency, again gen employees don't do anything there are doc/nurse teams for it


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Re: Teachers ignore fire alarms

Postby Adacore » Wed May 05, 2010 12:02 pm UTC

keeneal wrote:... Even when they're caused by hair straighteners in an adjoining hall at 4 AM.

This happened all the damn time in Uni halls and gets oh so very annoying. I think almost every fire alarm (false alarm) we ever had in halls was between 01:00 and 05:00, frequently in mid-winter, so we all had to shiver around in the courtyard in our dressing gowns (unless you had the foresight to grab your duvet and carry that down to keep warm) for half an hour before they gave the all clear. It was almost always hair straighteners, except the one time it was burnt toast.

There are elements of confirmation and systematic bias in that, of course - if there were fire alarms during the day I normally wasn't there for them, and if I was I don't remember them anywhere near as well, because chilling in the courtyard for half an hour on a nice spring/autumn day isn't exactly unpleasant.

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Re: Teachers ignore fire alarms

Postby Ixtellor » Wed May 05, 2010 1:34 pm UTC

Something I am curious about in regards to your rant.

How many children have died in a school fire in the history of the USA?
Seems like that might be some relevant data.
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Re: Teachers ignore fire alarms

Postby JayAr » Wed May 05, 2010 3:19 pm UTC

Ixtellor wrote:Something I am curious about in regards to your rant.

How many children have died in a school fire in the history of the USA?
Seems like that might be some relevant data.


Math, About 80% of fire deaths happen at home. About 2,755 people die at home from fire per year, I don't know how to put schools vs offices in the equation but here's the start
[math]2755*.25 = 688.75[/math] OK?
So I don't know the statistics of office fires vs school fires... So 688.75 fire related deaths outside of the home in the USA happen per year..
EDIT: Also what about forest and camping fires?
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Re: Teachers ignore fire alarms

Postby SecondTalon » Wed May 05, 2010 3:49 pm UTC

Ixtellor wrote:Something I am curious about in regards to your rant.

How many children have died in a school fire in the history of the USAthe World?
Seems like that might be some relevant data.
Not everyone ranting in this thread is American. As a result, there's different laws and regulations and blah blah blah you get the idea.

I do not recall any ignored fire or tornado drills in my K-12 years. I do not recall any fire drills and am fairly certain there were none, but there were a few "real" tornado ones... I say "real" because it's some law or regulation or something that required us to do that when the weather hit a certain point or something.. don't think there was ever a tornado anywhere near the school, wasn't a big deal.

That may just be me and my desensitization of tornadoes. Grew up rural with 4 television stations, the main one I watched would freak the fuck out every time rain started, much less an actual tornado, so I've got it in my head that unless I can actually see a tornado, there's nothing to worry about. Given that I live in Kentucky, this attitude isn't too bad of one to have, just a little dangerous. If I lived in Kansas, I'd probably be dead already.
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Re: Teachers ignore fire alarms

Postby Ixtellor » Wed May 05, 2010 4:05 pm UTC

Thanks talon, I was being too centric in this thread.

I did a quick search could find no school fire deaths, but it was a quick search.

I don't ignore firedrills, but no way a student dies in a fire at my school unless its like a meteor or volcano.. in which a fire alarm would not matter anyway.

I just thought that was something not worth being upset over.

It would be like anger that our Government isn't taking action about Hawkins latest warning.
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Re: Teachers ignore fire alarms

Postby Chicostick » Wed May 05, 2010 4:11 pm UTC

I remember one time when the alarm system in my dorm was somehow broken, and a bunch of technicians had come in to fix it. For some reason fixing it involved having the damn thing go off randomly at all hours, for DAYS. And there was a loud siren and light in every room, so it would be extremely annoying. We had been informed before hand that that would be happening though, so we knew there was nothing to worry about.

We had only a few false alarms that year, and all of them were at around 2am in the dead of winter. For some reason it seems fire alarms will only go off in a dorm after midnight.


Anyway, as to the ignoring fire alarms issue, I've never had a teacher ignore one. And I've never ignored one myself, even when I really wanted to because it just woke me up at 2am and I KNEW there wasn't a fire.

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Re: Teachers ignore fire alarms

Postby sje46 » Wed May 05, 2010 4:17 pm UTC

General_Norris wrote:There has only been one teacher in my whole life who responded to the fire alarm going off. Most say "We will stand up when the other teachers do" meaning that nobody ever stand up because they will waste their precious lessons because of something as petty as this. I have always confronted those teachers only to be mocked up.

Why? I really ask, why? Sooner or later there's going to be a real fire and dozen of students are going to die because their teacher is stupid and that's not good at all. How widespread is this? What can I do to solve this? Tell the Dean that a certain teacher is ignoring the alarms?
Where do you live, and what kinds of schools were these? I would think that any country more developed than Somalia would have it law that you should evacuate children from public schools whenever the fire alarm goes off, regardless of the reason why. These were very irresponsible teachers. I kinda hope they all get fired. You should send a letter to the superintendent or something? Even if it was decades ago, I'm sure a few of the same teachers still work there.

Aikanaro wrote:My HS was comprised of separate buildings, so just because an alarm went off one place, didn't mean I was around to hear the alarm. That said, I remember one time that apparently someone SET a fire in a boiler room (for some reason, it sticks in my memory that a sock was involved.....maybe soaked in gasoline?), alarms were set off, fire was put out quickly.....and a lot of teachers never bothered interrupting class. I recall one classmate of mine mentioning later, "Yeah, I'm dead now, didn't you hear? There was a fire, we weren't called outside, and I died in it. So I'm dead now. Think I can skip class?" :roll:
Well, was the fire in the same building?

Also, I was on a campus too, for high school...there were two buildings that were counted as separate buildings, but were definitely connected, physically. But when the fire alarm went off in one, it didn't go off in the other. Stupidity.

Anyone ever realize that real fire alarms were different than fake ones? Fake ones just had the noise, but if someone pulled it, or if there's actually a fire, there was always a voice telling us to move.
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Re: Teachers ignore fire alarms

Postby DNA » Wed May 05, 2010 4:23 pm UTC

Last semester the construction crew at our university broke a natural gas pipe line and an alarm sounded 10 minutes before the end of my class' final exam. The teacher told us to leave if we wanted but those who wanted to stay could. I was so glad I was only sticking around to review so I go out of there ASAP. Then a mysterious voice came on the intercom and said "Seriously, everybody out now". My teacher STILL let those who hadn't finished stay, and since the pipeline in question was in the adjacent building, people could definitely have died just because nobody wanted to write another final :roll:
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Re: Teachers ignore fire alarms

Postby Dthen » Wed May 05, 2010 4:35 pm UTC

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Re: Teachers ignore fire alarms

Postby keeneal » Wed May 05, 2010 4:42 pm UTC

sje46 wrote:
General_Norris wrote:Anyone ever realize that real fire alarms were different than fake ones? Fake ones just had the noise, but if someone pulled it, or if there's actually a fire, there was always a voice telling us to move.
This is not true in neither my former high school nor my university. In both cases the alarms were identical.
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Re: Teachers ignore fire alarms

Postby silent man » Wed May 05, 2010 5:09 pm UTC

Unless I am gravely mistaken, fire drills here (Germany) are supervised by the fire department, so if a teacher decided to ignore one, heads would be likely to roll.

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Re: Teachers ignore fire alarms

Postby New User » Wed May 05, 2010 5:18 pm UTC

keeneal wrote:
sje46 wrote:
General_Norris wrote:Anyone ever realize that real fire alarms were different than fake ones? Fake ones just had the noise, but if someone pulled it, or if there's actually a fire, there was always a voice telling us to move.
This is not true in neither my former high school nor my university. In both cases the alarms were identical.

I think what General_Norris means is that in the case of a real fire, the person who actually witnessed the fire and pulled the alarm would also be shouting "Fire! Fire! Everybody get the hell out!" or something. I know I would be shouting something like that if I witnessed a fire.

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Re: Teachers ignore fire alarms

Postby keeneal » Wed May 05, 2010 5:47 pm UTC

Really? I assumed he meant as part of the alarm system. My high school had a voice that said "A fire emergency has been reported in the building. Please proceed to the nearest exit." This was accompanied by air horns and strobe lights, and was always heard - regardless of if the alarm was a drill or not.
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Re: Teachers ignore fire alarms

Postby Carnildo » Thu May 06, 2010 2:30 am UTC

Ixtellor wrote:Something I am curious about in regards to your rant.

How many children have died in a school fire in the history of the USA?
Seems like that might be some relevant data.

I don't know about the USA, but worldwide, a quick Wikipedia search shows that there's a school fire that kills 100-200 students once every 15-20 years. The most recent one in the US appears to have been in 1958.

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Re: Teachers ignore fire alarms

Postby EdgarJPublius » Thu May 06, 2010 4:20 am UTC

Chicostick wrote:I remember one time when the alarm system in my dorm was somehow broken, and a bunch of technicians had come in to fix it. For some reason fixing it involved having the damn thing go off randomly at all hours, for DAYS. And there was a loud siren and light in every room, so it would be extremely annoying. We had been informed before hand that that would be happening though, so we knew there was nothing to worry about.

Yes, I had a situation like this last year... during finals week...

Luckily, my brother lives in a different building and his alarm wasn't malfunctioning, so I crashed on his couch.

Still, this sort of thing shouldn't happen.
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Re: Teachers ignore fire alarms

Postby sje46 » Thu May 06, 2010 6:00 am UTC

New User wrote:
keeneal wrote:
sje46 wrote:
General_Norris wrote:Anyone ever realize that real fire alarms were different than fake ones? Fake ones just had the noise, but if someone pulled it, or if there's actually a fire, there was always a voice telling us to move.
This is not true in neither my former high school nor my university. In both cases the alarms were identical.

I think what General_Norris means is that in the case of a real fire, the person who actually witnessed the fire and pulled the alarm would also be shouting "Fire! Fire! Everybody get the hell out!" or something. I know I would be shouting something like that if I witnessed a fire.

keeneal wrote:Really? I assumed he meant as part of the alarm system. My high school had a voice that said "A fire emergency has been reported in the building. Please proceed to the nearest exit." This was accompanied by air horns and strobe lights, and was always heard - regardless of if the alarm was a drill or not.
Keeneal is right in that that's what I meant. Neither of you are right in who actually said that. Twas me, not General_Norris.
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Re: Teachers ignore fire alarms

Postby Adacore » Thu May 06, 2010 4:31 pm UTC

Chicostick wrote:We had only a few false alarms that year, and all of them were at around 2am in the dead of winter. For some reason it seems fire alarms will only go off in a dorm after midnight.

I suspect, at Uni (College) a significant factor in that is alcohol consumption. People tend to be drunk after midnight, with impaired judgement that causes them to do stupid things, some of those things lead to smoke, which in turn leads to fire alarms going off. In addition to that, overnight is the time of highest occupancy in a dorm - the rest of the time people are frequently out doing something, so there aren't as many people around who could set off a fire alarm.

Plus, of course, the confirmation and systematic bias I alluded to in my post - fire alarms at 2am are far more memorable than those at 2pm, because they're more annoying; and in the daytime you're frequently not actually in the dorm, so you don't notice fire alarms.

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Re: Teachers ignore fire alarms

Postby Overdosed on Apathy » Thu May 06, 2010 6:50 pm UTC

Wow, what school do you go to?

I have never had a teacher ignore a fire alarm, not when I was in elementary, junior high, high school, or college. The only time I've ever been instructed to ignore a fire alarm was once at work, but they were doing tests on the alarms and we were told before hand when they would be, and that we could disregard them.
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Re: Teachers ignore fire alarms

Postby Two-Fry » Thu May 06, 2010 8:13 pm UTC

Teachers always ignore fire alarms at my school. We've actually had a string of events where people have been setting fires in the bathrooms (including one that set off the sprinklers and flooded two floors), so the administration has been announcing that we need to evacuate in addition the fire alarm
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