How people react to a fire alarm. : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

As some of you may know, I maintain a temporary residence near our nations capitol. It is a high rise well above 20 stories high. At about 8PM last night, the fire alarm went off in my building. Although it was a cool and windy night and I was dressed in shorts and T-shirt, I just slipped on some shoes, grabbed a jacket and my wallet, and walked out into the deserted hallway.

As I walked down the stairs, I met one young couple walking up. I asked if the alarm was sounding on all the floors. He replied, "Yeah, but we didn't see anything." They were walking because the elevators automatically shut down when the fire alarm went off.

I did not see a single soul in the stairwell on my descent. Once outside,

-- MoVe Immediate (, November 06, 1999


......damn laptops with the touch pads. They always find my thumb and react in strange in mysterious ways. This submit.

Anyway......Once outside, I looked around and people were going about their business like nothing was happening. Even when the fire trucks arrived a few minutes later, there was absolutely no response of any kind.

I would estimate that with a resident population of approximately 3000 people, maybe 10 people, mostly elderly responded.

The herd's olfactory nerves have been permanently damaged by some unknown force.

-- MoVe Immediate (, November 06, 1999.

Hi MVI! Of course nobody did anything; nothing bad ever happens anywhere! If it did it would mean you had nasty negative thoughts and you weren't taking enough happy-face medication.

We've cured and outlawed truth and consequences in this society!

Until @ 8 weeks from now, that is ...

-- Ashton & Leska in Cascadia (, November 06, 1999.

Got Prozac?

-- Helium (, November 06, 1999.

Sorry Helium, gotta interject here and ask ~

got St. Johns Wort? That prozac's bad sh*t, man.

-- OR (, November 06, 1999.

Yikes MVI

Well if the guy on TV had told them to get off their butts maybe they would have moved.

Oh all the hundreds or threads I have read on this forum, this had to be the scariest.

-- Dolma Lhamo (I', November 06, 1999.

I believe that what you are seeing in this instance is a very human reaction to all the cursed buzzers, horns, warning bells and klaxons that people deal with every day, and that quite often provide a false alarm. Had there been evidence of combustion, or had a human being been sounding the warning, the reaction on the part of the tenants would have been much different, in my opinion.

-- PKM (.@...), November 06, 1999.

Nice that you are back in evidence, MVI. I do have one quibble however. You wrote "grabbed a jacket and my wallet". Shouldn't you also have grabbed your KNIFE ?

- count never caught without knife vronsky

-- Count Vronsky (vronsky@anna.lit), November 06, 1999.

Same thing happens in offices. I used to work at one of the biggest law firms in San Fran. When the fire alarm sounded, we clerks & secretaries dutifully walked down four flights, as we had been instructed.

Most of the lawyer-scum (as I always fondly thought of them), however, never budged from their desks.

I remember thinking: Too bad it wasn't a real fire.

-- no longer in (a@high.rise), November 06, 1999.

Certain godly people have prophesied that Washington D.C. will be hit by nuclear missiles from Russian submarines in a sneak attack upon America.

If you intend upon residing in that locale, then please make your peace with God.

-- Randolph (, November 06, 1999.

Helium, and Or -- I think Ginko Biloba is called for. Stimulation for the brain as Martha would say "It's a Good Thing"!!!

-- ginkobiloba (, November 06, 1999.

MoVe Immediate,

Would you please get your bug out bag packed and keep some warm clothes in it!



You will have another opportunity to either PASS or FAIL... soon.

Be Prepared.

Over and out.

-- Diane J. Squire (, November 06, 1999.

Hey Cory, What is the status of those 100 mainframes that control the power grid?

-- Earl (, November 06, 1999.

Earl, What 100 mainframes that control the power grid? P;ease tell us more, like where are they, and why are they using mainframes instead of dedicated SCADA, EMS and AGC anyway?


-- Malcolm Taylor (, November 07, 1999.

Howdy MVI,

Long time, no see! It's always nice to see an old friend wonder back in here.

So how are things going in Disneyland, I mean DC? Fill us in on your project, and things in general! Oh, and I agree with Diane.

Anyway, we had an office alarm a few years ago. 3 floor building, about 150 people. The standing procedure is get out! Well, one guy on the 2nd floor didn't. The local fire commander took him out, and in front of everyone, at the top of his lungs says:



-- Sysman (, November 07, 1999.

Malcom, The 100 mainframes is something I saw on a Cory Hamasaki Y2k Weather Report. That is all I know, but would like to know the truth. Can you help?

-- Earl (, November 07, 1999.

I seem to recall studies of passenger behavior in real aircraft evacuation situations. You know, LEAVE ALL PERSONAL ITEMS AND MOVE TO THE EMERGENCY EXITS , in which folks stopped and looked for their carryon luggage and such. Most of us do not think evacuation in our regular routine, and since transportation itself has been routinized there has been no real incentive to think in terms of personal safety.We value comfort above many things.

-- drac (greenspanisgod@frb.giov), November 07, 1999.

They modified that 'Airplane Evacuation' test to get more realistic results. They offered the _first_ person off the plane, oh $100 or something. The second $50, the third $5 and the rest nothing.

The ensuing stampede and chaos perfectly demonstrated what researchers wanted to see. People were shoving each other aside to be the first out, their goodies be damned. Also, they learned that people don't always know where the closest exit is to them. They rush to where the crowd already is trying to get out!


Know where the closest exit is kids.

-- Lara (, November 07, 1999.

I once viewed a television interview with a famous singer of the '70's, (John somebody) who recounted his experience of his gig being shut down by the famous fire at the MGM grand in Las Vegas.

Even though he realized the fire was real an used his microphone to direct people to the nearest exits behind the stage, they mostly just sat there until they started to really smell and see the smoke. Then of course, they panicked and stampeded and he cried as he remembered that there were no more people coming out of the exit he was manning, "no more people, just thick black smoke..."

-- Berry Picker (, November 07, 1999.


Seems like I remember what you are talking about. The singer I think was John Davidson. He used to have a TV variety show in the 70's

-- MoVe Immediate (, November 07, 1999.

When traveling by air, I always keep my wallet strapped to my waist, not loose in my purse. If I ever have to leave the plane suddenly at least I won't have to leave anything valuable behind.

Also that should make it easier to identify my body.

-- common sense (is@very.uncommon), November 08, 1999.

I applaud your ability to recognize "what" the fire alarm was.

The rest? You're right: they are "aware" enough of their surroundings to recognize it, to understand that it is a warning of impending problems - and - YES - there are false fire alarms and distractions and buzzers that sound like fire alarms - but aren't.

Lord knows we've had enough false alarms and distractions in the year 2000 process.

Like your neighbors - scary thought - almost ALL in the world would rather stay inside in their comfort than leave and go to where it maybe - underline the "maybe" part - safer - but certainly more uncomfortable and inconvenient.

Notice the attitude expressed even in these few replies: They'd leave if they smelled smoke - too late for some certainly, more dangerous for all who are trying to leave in a fully-enveopled fire, rather than the fumes that trip a smoke detector!

They'd leave if fire marshall told them too. They'd leave when the fire trucks arrive. They'd leave if it weren't too cold outside.....They'd leave after the phone call is finished - let the secretaries and clerks go "I'm too important (doing real lawyer-work) to be distracted by some stupid fire alarm....."

Seems like that's exactly what the majority of people are doing with the y2k issues: let's wait until we can actually see what's broken before we try to make preparations against something breaking.....

-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Marietta, GA) (, November 08, 1999.

Damn fingers - they don't hit the keys that I try to tell them to hit....

My sentence above should be: "Are they sensitive enough to their environment to ...."

-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Marietta, GA) (, November 08, 1999.

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