First-Time Fire Alarm Stories

Anyone remember what you were doing the first time you got to hear a particular type of fire alarm?

I’ve got a few:

September 2009 - Country School, Weston, MA

What went off: Simplex 4100 system with TrueAlert speaker/strobes, speakers, and strobes.

The story: Me and the rest of the class were in the computer lab, getting the hang of a timed math program called FASTT Math (some of you will cringe at the mere mention of those words). Anyway, I had just gotten to a pause point in the initial “Fast Fact Challenge” when I hear this (different speaker/strobes, but you get the idea). I quickly realized it was a fire alarm. So I log out of FASTT Math, and head out the door and out through the front entrance. We wait outside for a minute or two before the system is reset and we head back in.

I log back into FASTT Math and complete the lesson.

That story might have been a little, well, boring.

Don’t worry - here’s a more fun one.

July 2012 - Milestones Day School - Waltham, MA

What went off: Notifier NFS2-640 system with SpectrAlert Advance speaker/strobes, and more.

The story: The elementary grades (4 and 5) went on a field trip to a children’s museum.

Due to behaviors that occurred the previous day, I was not able to go on this field trip, so me and a teacher stayed back.

I was understandably very upset at first. After I calmed down, I just sat down on the carpet and did nothing for around an hour, but that quickly became way too boring.

So, what did I do after that hour? I pulled out my computer (this school gave every student their own MacBook) and started watching episodes of my favorite TV show - Lab Rats.

The teacher didn’t care and went into the adjacent room. That’s right - I effectively “earned” hours of undisturbed free time for having bad behavior. (“Undisturbed” didn’t turn out to be true, because of what happened next.)

I had watched 2 episodes and was barely into the third one when I hear this. I initially had no idea what it was. I first thought it was someone’s two-way radio. (I’m a little embarrassed to say this…)

I quickly realized what was really going on when I noticed that the strobes were flashing. I click pause and head out, down the hallway, and down the stairs - in those stairs I heard Wheelock MT’s on 120bpm March Time. (these MT’s are in the basement.)

Outside, I could clearly hear SpectrAlert Classic and Advance horn/strobes doing code-3, from the office tenants upstairs.

We waited, and waited, and waited, and waited, out in some decidedly hot weather. (It was over 90 degrees that day. Did I mention the assembly point is a grassy hill with no shade at all?)

After 20 or so minutes, we were finally allowed back in - false alarm caused by burnt toast.

Back to watching Lab Rats!

The teacher tried giving me work a few times but I used the classic excuse of “Just one more episode…” which worked every time.

After around 2 hours, the other students got back from the field trip.

A student had a quick conversation with me, which went somewhat like this:

Student: What did you do while we were gone? Just sit there and do nothing for hours and hours?

Me: Of course not! Why do you think I would do nothing?

Student: Then what did you do?

Me: I watched episodes of this TV show that’s on Disney XD. It’s called Lab Rats.

Student: I’ve never seen that show, but my brother loves it. What’s it about?

Me: It’s awesome! A high-schooler named Leo Dooley moves in with an inventor. Leo accidentally finds a basement-

Different Student: Don’t spoil it!

Me: Sorry…

Student: Anyhow, did anything else happen today that I missed?

Me: Well, the fire alarm went off.

Student: What?! We missed a fire drill?

Me: It wasn’t a drill.

Student: Then what happened?

Me: Someone burned toast.

Student: Just how do you know that?

Me: I asked the maintenance guy.

So those are my first-time fire alarm stories.

Got any interesting ones to share?

Simplex 2901-9833 (2009 in fourth grade):

It was like any day sitting in class. I think we were in the library getting books and chatting. The librarian was off in the backroom sorting out the broken servers when I saw the remote fire alarm light. The light was a silver plate with a red light and text that said “When light is on fire alarm has activated” or something like that. It clicked on and suddenly I heard the famous “BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM” All of us just dropped our books and ran like the wind out the backdoor into the playground. Outside the intercoms kicked on and we heard the intercom signal that was a loud siren noise. Then the adaptabells rang and we walked back inside.

EST Integrity (My mom’s work. 2008):

She worked (and still does) at a pawn shop. I was hanging out in the break room just laying around. (The manager went over next door to get Subway for the staff (Keep in mind this is a shopping center with a shared EST 2.). Suddenly The signals turned and we walked outside. The Subway toaster failed and smoke hit the EST “Traffic cone” detector.

Idk if it’s too late for this but here goes:

I believe the building had a Notifier System 5000. the alarms were third generation Gentex SHG’s, the ones that sound like commanders.

IIRC October 2008:

I was in preschool at a local elementary school. I’m sitting with my class during “circle time,” and all of a sudden, this: RRREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! I was oblivious to what this sound meant, but we all instinctively lined up by the door. Right to the side of this door was a small single person bathroom, and I saw that red square with a strange shiny thing sticking out of it, that read FIRE, was now flashing. It was a Gentex GXS strobe. I remember watching it flashing and being completely mesmerized by it, until the teachers lead us outside, where a Wheelock MT outside could be heard in the distance. I actually had a logical 4-year-old explanation for the different sound outside. I thought the MT sound came from the SHG sound passing through the windows and in the process becoming much higher pitched. I also remember really being intrigued by the alarms and wanting to talk about them, but feared being punished because I knew it wasn’t normal. That’s my early alarm story.

I can’t remember what I was doing the first time we had a fire drill EVER in my elementary school which had Simplex 4903-9219 horn/strobes out in the hallway but I assume that we were doing some sort of kindergarten wok when it went off. I don’t even remember if the teacher explained what a fire alarm was. It just sort of happened.

I do remember the first time I heard a Gentex SHG which was the second fire alarm that I ever heard. We were in art class working on a project when seemingly out of nowhere it went off and it was like a very high-pitched whistling sound and was stunned before I got up and evacuated with the rest of the class. This was when the art room was in a back room inside the library (this room later became an ESL classroom). I didn’t even know there was an alarm in there at first until we got back and I looked up. It was above the doorway. For a few years I was obsessed with it but only had one fire drill in there despite it being a dual art/music classroom (back then the school alternated between art and music classes). When I was in 4th grade, it was turned into an ESL classroom so I never got to hear it again.

I remember the first time hearing the fire alarms at my elementary school.

I was in Grade 1, doing french when my principal comes on the P.A. system. She announces she wants to set off the fire alarms so that everyone knows what they sound like. My french teacher opens up the door, and points to the red bell (now I know it was an Edwards 439-10AWC) doing its march time coding from the Edwards 6500 in place at the time.

Fast forward to Grade 6, when our school added about 250 more students from a school merger and the 6500 was just replaced with a Mircom FX-2000. Instead, my principal, a different one, hinted that there was going to be a fire drill that week (ended up being the same day) as no one knew what the new alarms sounded like. When the alarms went off, the security siren went off first, before the Mircom FHS-240s did their temporal rounds. In the old system, the 6500 set the bells off before the security sirens.

The first time I heard 9838s was when I was in second grade in 2000 after we came in from outside as we were in gym class and we went back in to the gymnasium which also doubles as the cafeteria. A few minutes later, the alarms went off and I had to look around for a few seconds before I saw the 4903-9101 strobe plates flashing. I remember thinking that the horns in the cafeteria and gymnasium were really different and I couldn’t understand why and never paid much attention to them until that happened. When the alarms went off, every time I was in lunch or the cafeteria I would always keep an eye on them.

Can’t believe I forgot this…

Disney’s Beach Club Resort - Bay Lake, FL - February 2015

What went off: Siemens FireFinder XLS system with newer initiating devices (HMS-S’s and FirePrints), but old Wheelock speaker/strobes (ET-1070-WS-24) left over from the previous system, and some sort of mini-horns in the rooms.

The story: I was out in the courtyard when I suddenly hear mini-horns in continuous, and a second later, the code-3 tone began to play. Because this was at Walt Disney World, I was expecting a custom message, but it turned out to be the default.

I’m assuming this was a system test because no one evacuated, and the alarm was silenced after only 2 rounds.

I was staying in the Villas which is a separate building.

That has an MXL (I saw the panel, it’s in a service area on the 1st floor) with the usual initiating devices (MSI-10B’s and FirePrints) and S-HP-MCS speaker/strobes, as well as Gentex GX90 mini-horns in the rooms.

The first time that I heard a Wheelock AS (this one being an AS-2415) was also when I was in first grade but it was a little after the new year when it got warm out so about March or so. I didn’t know that there was a first grade classroom in the basement and just thought that there were three first grade classrooms along with the ESL teacher being in a room attached to another first grade classroom. When we had fire drills I noticed that there was a door that opened up and stuck my head in to hear the alarm. It really did sound a whole lot different and I was very confused. Flash-forward about 4 years later and that first grade classroom is now a multi-purpose room and the 6th grade classes exit out through it (this was before the Station nightclub fire) and I was in there for OT/PT quite a lot. At that point, I was told in advanced when fire drills would happen because they thought it would help me (it just made me more anxious actually) and I told the teacher assistant that worked with me (I was in a special education class) I was curious about the alarm so she brought me down there and that is when I heard it go off. The next year in 6th grade I was looking forward to fire drills since we would have to go through that room but the fire marshal made the teacher change the evacuation route so we didn’t go that way. Somehow fate made up for it though because we had quite a few fire drills in there when we were using it for a gathering room for all the 6th grade classes.

I’ll make it short and nice (I’ll try my best, knowing myself I’ll uselessly dwindle in a long and never ending novel LOL!)

This was last year, that’s all I remember when it comes to the location, the building I was in had a special FA system (it didn’t have the usual NFS32001 AFNOR signals), the alarm went off by 11h30 or so, me and my dad (at the moment we were at a conference) never paid attention to it.

Five minutes after the alarm went off, a security agent comes and asks us “Vous avez entendu ? Y’a l’alarme incendie qui s’est déclenchée.” (Did you hear? The fire alarm was activated.)

It ensued like that (translated passages are in italics, yes I wanted to try another style):

  • [*]Father: "Quelle alarme ? J'ai rien entendu." ([i]What alarm? I didn't hear anything.[/i])
  • [*]Me (slightly annoyed): "L'alarme incendie... Bon sang moi non plus j'y ai pas fait attention." ([i]The fire alarm... Bloody hell, I didn't even pay attention to it.[/i])
  • [*]Security guy: "Suivez-moi, je sais pas où ça s'est déclenché, mais ils sont en train de faire évacuer le bâtiment" ([i]Follow me, I dunno where it got activated, but they're evacuating the building[/i])
  • [*]Director: "Vous aussi vous ne l'avez pas entendu ?" ([i]You too, you didn't hear it?[/i])
  • [*]Me: "Bah..." *shrugs*
  • [*]Father: "Sortons donc..." ([i]Let's get out of here[/i])
  • [*]Me: "J'espère que c'est un exercice... Faut toujours que ça nous tombe dessus" ([i]I hope it was a test... It always falls upon us[/i])
  • [/list] [i]Cue in the five of us (the director, the security guy, me, my father and the 2nd person present in the conference) waltzing down the stairs[/i]
    We all waited roughly 4 minutes outside... Before a 2nd security agent comes and yells at everyone about how long everyone took to evacuate... I don't remember what he said, so...

    My first time hearing a 4051 I do remember it and the evacuation but other than it was my first time hearing a different horn from what I was used to and didn’t know what to expect. The first week of 7th grade was when the principal made an announcement about what to do if the fire alarm went off. I thought it would be a bit too soon to have a fire drill but I was in a new school and I realized that we would be having to do a whole different way of conducting them. The special education teacher I was with made a comment that the principal making an announcement like that was usually a hint. That made me all nervous and jittery since I don’t like to know because of the anticipation. Eventually it went off and…that was it. I remember thinking it was strange that it had a light that flashed instead of a strobe plate. The wing I was in the horns weren’t really that loud admittedly. The science wing which was a floor before was FAR louder.