Fire alarm: what do you do?

Obviously, there are two choices: go outside (and take the stairs down), or stay inside and take your chances. Hey, it’s probably just a drill, right?

It depends very much on my past experiences with fire alarms at that site.

If I’ve never experienced a false alarm there, go outside. The first time the fire alarm went off at our old apartment building, we got the cats into their carriers and took them down with us.

If I’ve experienced several false alarms there, especially recently, try to get somewhere where the noise and flashing lights aren’t too bad. That might be outside, or it might not.

I know in my undergrad days, we would ignore it (or sometimes sleep through!) rather than leave. Quite often some idiot had a hotplate running and burnt toast, or pulled the alarm, etc., while it was cold out. When it became nightly we didn’t move. Until they decided to start fining students that didn’t leave. What wonderful memories.

Well, where I work, we’ve never had a fire drill (I wonder if I should mention this to someone). So if I heard what sounded like a fire alarm, I would at least investigate. The one time that we had an actual emergency (not a very urgent one), it involved the HVAC unit on the roof, which wouldn’t have set off any alarms inside anyway. People were informed by word-of-mouth to go outside until the fire department and gas company gave the all-clear.

At home, the smoke alarm in the back stairwell has gone off for no apparent reason so often, that when I hear it, I usually get annoyed and try to ignore it.

The fire alarm where I work makes a horrid, painfully loud noise that almost guarantees the building will be promptly evacuated. I’d go out anyway - I’m on the third floor and nothing I’m doing there is worth the slightest chance of being trapped in a burning building.

I was in a movie theater once when the fire alarm went off, and I was surprised at how few people got up and went out.

Get out.

If repetitive false alarms are caused by assholes or a bad system, complain. But still get out. Address the root cause.

The time you decide to say ‘Fuck it-it’s just a false alarm’ may be the time it’s the real deal, and then you are indeed screwed.

Fire alarm goes off at work? I’d leave immediately. First, the safety marshalls would probably come and drag me out if I didn’t leave of my own volition. Second, it would get me off the phone and from experience I know there’s something very satisfying about telling a cusyomer who’s whining about some $2 fee “I’m sorry to hear that but the building may be on fire and I have to evacuate.” And finally, if it actually is a fire, no way do I owe this company my life.

Leave immediately, every time. This got really old when I was in college and the fire alarm sensitivity was set high enough that you could set them off by throwing a football down the hall, but I still trudged out into the cold every time they went off. I figured I’d feel really stupid if I died in a fire the one time it turned out to be for real.

It turns out there was a grease fire in the Cafeteria here. I was among the 5% or so of people that actually exited the building. The guy that sits in the next cube asked me if I thought it was a false alarm, and I just said I wasn’t going to hang around to find out. A couple years ago, at a different job, the same exact thing happened (grease fire in the kitchen). Another time, I was with my family having breakfast in a resteraunt and there was a fire in the kitchen. We weren’t the first ones out the door, but we were close.

In all three cases, the vast majority didn’t even get out of their seats. As a matter of fact, during the resteraunt fire, the waitresses were telling people there was a fire, that it wasn’t a drill, that they had to leave, and people were refusing to leave - “We’re eating!.” It’s inexplicable.

I have learned from experience when the alarm goes off in the hotel, you get dressed and go to the lobby. If it is the middle of the night, grab a jacket. Find a comfy chair in the lobby and wait. If it is a false alarm you will be nice and warm. If it is a fire, assuming it is not in the lobby you will have plenty of time to leave as the firemen start dragging hoses inside.

The reason you wait inside is that the firemen won’t throw you out, but if you go outside they won’t let you back in until they have checked the entire building even though it is fairly obvious it is a false alarm.
Ask me how I know this.

How do you know this?


If the fire alarm goes off at work, I’m going to get out, no matter how many false alarms we’ve had. Even if it’s not a fire, I might get in trouble for not getting out- why risk that?

That reminded me of this story from here:

I always, always, always evacuate as soon as possible. I am not going to be the jack ass that sat there playing on the computer before I realized it was a real fire and died trying to get down the stairwell with the 50,000 other people who thought it would be okay to wait.

The last time there was a fire alarm at work I was the second person out of the building. I work on the 14th floor. There were 13 floors of people below me just twiddling their thumbs while I raced down the stairs to get out of the building. Had it been more than a simple wiring issue that had set off the alarm many, many people would have died needlessly so they could finish their phone call/project/whatever.

At the last place where I worked, we had a series of false alarms. However, I always left, because you never know when it’s going to be real. At a job previous to that, I was made a fie warden, and had some training, where they showed us films of just how fast fires can spread. In addition, there was a real fire in a building next door to mine, so I know that fires can happen.

I have to admit–when I was at the library one cold and rainy day, and the fire alarm went off, I did not exactly hustle to leave the building. But when I heard the librarians coming around to tell us that we needed to evacuate, I grabbed my laptop and purse and evacuated. I was then annoyed by people not wearing coats who were hovering by the doors to the building. Since I was not an employee, and I had a car across the street, I was inclined to run an errand or two, before returning to the library to check out my books.

I did so. So I guess I’m somewhere between leave at once, and wait until I know it’s real–or at least not an alarm I can easily and safely ignore.

I live in a dorm. If the fire alarm goes off, I ignore it, because if it’s an actual fire drill, my RA or one of the security guards will come and pound on everyone’s door and tell us to go outside.

I know this because the one and only proper fire drill we’ve ever had happened shortly before 7 AM on a twenty-degree morning in December, on a Wednesday, which is the one day of the week that I don’t have a 9 AM class.

There were not enough free donuts and coffee in the world to placate us.

It depends on the place and where I am at the time. Our university library had so many false alarms it wasn’t even funny. Anyone who was on the ground floor when the alarm went off would wait to see if the librarians moved or not before responding. On the other hand, if I was in the bookstacks, I would at least move out into the open area near the stairs and see what the general atmosphere was like.

My friend at Yale told me that they have a library with a very valuable book collection, and that in the event of a fire all the oxygen is sucked out of the building to put out immediately. Apparently people who work there have to sign something that indicates they are aware their lives are considered a fair trade for the preservation of the books in case of a fire. :dubious: I don’t know if she was pulling my leg or not, and have been too lazy to actually look it up.

In college, we’d have a false fire alarm in our dorm at least twice a weekend, sometimes more than once in the same night. It was usually idiots pulling the alarm or setting off the fire extinguishers. The alarm buzzed in a certain pattern to tell you what floor it was on, so after a while I wouldn’t leave unless it was on my floor or a floor immediately adjacent. That was mostly because the Fire Department would fine you if they caught you staying behind, and we’d learned they checked that floor and the adjacent ones. I wouldn’t have really feared a dorm room fire even on my floor since a neighboring dorm with the exact same construction had a room gutted by a fire (unattended candle, student left for class) and it never left the room - metal-core doors and cinderblock walls are good for something.

Where I work (a medical center), if the fire alarm goes off in my area, we help evacuate patients. We don’t leave the building unless things are really hitting the fan, though - the construction is designed to compartmentalize parts of the same floor off from the other parts, so you evacuate “horizontally” first, through fire doors. You go down a floor if your whole floor is becoming involved with an actual fire. They also make it clear when drills are happening (they’re rare) versus a real alarm, and people are assigned to confirm that areas are clear.

Unlikely, with kernals of possible truth. I’ve not been to Yale, but I have been to the New York State Legislature’s Library–probably not it’s proper name. It is located in the State Capital building, and because of the books and documents, and because of other factors–like age and cost to retrofit-- there is a Halon fire extinguisher system rather than a sprinkler system.

Halon is no longer widely used to extinguish fires because it is bad for the environment and bad for humans to breathe. It is excellent for putting out fires near books or electronics, because it does not damage paper or electronics–unlike water. The librarian who gave us a tour indicated generally, that if there is ever a fire alarm, one should depart immediately, because if you are still there when the Halon system activates, it will be very bad for your health.

I would not be surprised if a similar system exists at Yale’s library, and would not be surprised if employees were asked to sign a form indicating that they understand the risks involved, but I suspect it’s less dramatic than the statment that I quoted.

If I’m awake enough to think clearly, I’ll leave the building. Sadly, if the fire alarm wakes me up in the middle of the night, I’ll pull the covers and pillows around my head and hope the noise goes away. I know this from experience.