Fire alarms used for something other than fire

I don’t think we have had this topic before, so list all the diffrent things you have seen fire alarms.

Fore me, I see gentex commanders used all the time as door alarms on emergency exits. Most of the time their in continues, but at Lowes, there in code-3.

At HEB, there are grey Edwards 874-N5s with 3 strobes on it (both sides and the top). These are used as frezzer alarms and are installed above the giant meat frezzer doors. The strobes on the left and right sides are white and are labeled “Door” and “Leak”. The top strobe is solid red and says “HELP” in black lettering. When the door is opened, the door stobe flashes untill the door is closed. If there is a leak or the door is open a little bit, the leak strobe flashes and the alarm sounds in march time. I have never seen the help strobe go off and I dont know what sets it off.

And in hotel rooms for the disabled, they have a doorbell button on the outside of the door and when pushed, it turns on a PA400W (4/6 pattern) and a stobe.

Uhhh why would the leak strobe flash if the door was open? Isn’t what the door strobe is for? The leak strobe is probably to indicate a refrigerant leak.

The help strobe is probably activated by a switch inside the freezer if someone inside needs help.

At a Costco near me, they use fire alarms as “Urgent” Alarms and “Non-Urgent” Alarms for the freezers/big refrigerator.

IF its not used for FIRE notification… Then it is NOT a fire alarm. They manufacture and sell these notification devices for MANY uses other than fire.

Good point. Thanks.

Thinking of devices used commonly for a fire alarm, but also for other things…

-At the Publix where I work, in the dairy cooler there is an Altronix horn that I believe has been rebranded by simplex or edwards. it is grey, and has the altronix logo in blue in the center. I believe it is for when the temperature in the cooler gets warmer than is safe to preserve chilled items.

-Nashville Airport has Edwards Chimes at the entrances to every gate. No idea wtf they’re for.

-At Austin, TX Airport there are grey spectr alert advance horn/strobes. probably for the same thing as Nashville, one went off when I was there, it was in a very shrill code 3.

-Chicago Midway Airport has grey Integrities with blue strobes at the entrance to the concourses. No idea what they’re for.

-Holiday Inn Express Hannover, MD 3 alarms in the room right beside each other. All three were integrity strobes and minihorns. one was red and labeled fire (fire alarm), one was white and labeled fire (smoke alarm), and one was white with no label, probably for door alarm.

-At the Motel 6 In Murfreesboro, the alarm that has a gentex gx strobe and mini horn that i think is a smoke detector is set up on a central system like a fire alarm system.

-The aforementioned smoke detectors were used for fire alarms, but still in smoke detector form at most Tennessee Rest Areas.

-On “Name that fire alarm”, recently did a post about a wheelock horn on a pier in Grand Haven, MI.


Uhhh why would the leak strobe flash if the door was open? Isn’t what the door strobe is for? The leak strobe is probably to indicate a refrigerant leak.


You are probably right. I am only guessing on the cause of the leak alarm from what I see when it goes off. I usually see the door opened not enough that is sets off the door strobe, but not compleatly shut either. The leak alarm sounds for about 10 seconds, then it stops after they shut the door. Its rare that it goes off, but I can try to get a video of it if Im lucky.

Post 9/11 the TSA mandated that all emergency exit doors that lead to the ramp (a secure area) must be alarmed with a strobe. Usually I have seen “fire alarm” type devices used. I know here in Phoenix when you attempt to open one of these doors a very loud and clear “STOP! YOU ARE ATTEMPTING TO ENTER A SECURE AREA. IF THIS IS AN EMERGENCY THE DOOR WILL OPEN IN 10 SECONDS.” then it will go into a continuous screeching sound on a speaker/strobe. Then the whole gate area plugs their ears until TSA comes to stop it…

There’s a store in my mall that has a white SpectAlert NA that doesn’t have the “fire” label on it. I don’t know what it is used for.

The Lowes near me has white horn/strobes by emergency exists without the fire label. I think they are exit alarms.

Actual fire alarms however can be used for other purposes, like for instance, during school bomb threats. However I’ve heard that this is strongly discouraged, the preferred way to evacuate in that situation is with a PA announcement.

Where I work (lifeguard) at the wave pool there are shut off buttons with a fire alarm stopper cover over them. They have signs over them indicating what the buttons are for.