Schools have more pull stations than other places.

Do you find it ironic that the places that have the most pull stations are the places where they are abused the most? Schools have so many pull stations, whereas other places like stores have so few, sometimes even just one. I find this ironic since schools are the places where the abuse of pull stations is the highest.

It’s not really ironic. They would rather have the occasional false alarm than have a fire go unreported and kill a bunch of children.

A couple of things to consider…



1.) Schools (really any educational type of occupancy) by design tend to have more exit doors and stairways oppose to other types of buildings. Take an office building, where they are interested in maximizing square footage - more square footage means more leasable space. They are only going to put in the minimum number of stairtowers, mechanical rooms will be really small, and they are not going to put in a lot of doors to keep construction costs down. Whereas schools, they are designed to be more accessible, easier to get around, they tend to design them to look nice, plus you have more or an assembly use (gym, cafeteria, auditorium). So you will have more exit doors, wider hallways, etc. And when you compare schools to retail, the retail buildings are going to have the minimum number of exits, spaced about a far as you can legally get. This is due to security concerns (theft both ways) and being able to control the customers in a merchandising standpoint. There is no accident a lot of stores have a normal “entrance” and “exit”.



2.) When you think about fire alarm design, especially older buildings, schools have always been designed with more devices compared to other buildings. A school built in 1992 would have been required to have a fully functional fire alarm system, whereas an office building built at the same time may have only been required to have protection around the elevator. Or that retail building, they were only concerned with property protection so they just monitor the sprinkler system. So it’s about what you are protecting at the time the building was built and the degree of hazard. Today, things are a little different but it’s going to take some time for those older buildings to get caught up to current codes.

This depends on local codes.

In some areas, ALL buildings of all types are required to have pull stations at all exits and stairwells.

Some jurisdictions don’t care as much, though.

That’s true.



The ramp up in fire safety probably came after the Our Lady of the Angels school fire, which occurred on December 1, 1958. The cause was arson. 95 people died: 92 students and 3 nuns. Many died from smoke inhalation when normal exit routes were cut off: this is why schools ALWAYS have an alternate exit plan; at least most do, unless they’re really old. Others from jumping out of two story windows in desperation; it was really 3 stories (as the school had a raised basement). Mind you, this is coming from Wikipedia, which depending on where you look may or may not be a reliable source. So don’t take my word for it if it’s an error.



But that’s my theory.



Also, keep in mind many schools have just as many pulls as others and no false alarms occur or barely any happen at all. Why? The answer: ramp ups in school security causes them to install video surveillance cameras. And lots of them are installed right near the fire alarm.

From the 4 schools that I attended, honestly only one of them NEVER had a false fire alarm due to a pull station being pulled for fun or by confusion from a student that didn’t know any better, and that was my high school. The reason why was that ALL of the pulls had stopper covers over them so if you were to lift the cover, it would make a noise alerting a teacher. The only place where the pulls DIDN’T have these covers were in the modular building, which had only two Edwards 270A-SPOs right near the two exit doors because it was only a 9-room building so nobody would risk getting caught out by pulling the alarm because there is no way anybody could get out in time afterwards. The rest of the school’s Simplex 2099-9756s all had stoppers over them. Since my high school was a vocational high school, most of the alarms that were triggered that weren’t by a fire drill was due to smoke in one of the vocational shops tripping a detector (and a lot of students blamed culinary 90% of the time :lol: )



I had the most false fire alarms due to pull stations being pulled in elementary school because NONE of the Simplex 2099-9756s and Simplex 2099-9795s had stopper covers over them. After that it was my middle school which is aging very quickly which had Edwards 270A-SPOs. My college NEVER had a false alarm due to it being triggered even though they don’t have stop covers over the BG-12LXs but the only time I have ever been in fire alarms over there is when the somebody in the staff lounge burns something in the microwave. :stuck_out_tongue:

I went to an older high school which had an AC Edwards adaptahorn system. They had pull stations (270-SPO or DPO I couldn’t say for sure) installed in each corridor although there were none at the exits (save for one near the door to the gym). In my 4 years there, there was only 1 malicious activation (occurred on the 4th floor) and I largely attribute this to the placement. When the pull station is right in the middle of the hallway, it’s hard to pull it and get out of sight before someone could see you. Although I am doubtful that they had malicious activation in mind when this system was put in.

I would say that putting a pull in the middle of the hallway is a good idea, except if there is a real fire then the puller won’t be able to get out in time.


That was common on really, really old buildings only.

Nowadays, you’ll find pull stations at exits, regardless of the occupancy.

My junior high school is really old also and originally had Edwards 360-Ls before they upgraded in the 1970s to Simplex 4051+4050-80s but kept the Edwards 270-SPO pulls but they were all placed near the stairwells and nowhere else.

The local Target store in my area has no pull stations that are by exits. The two pull stations that they have are at the customer service desk and fitting room area.

Correct. In the 50’s and 60’s original or renovated parts of my school (built in 1951 and additions in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and most recently in 1995) there are pulls in the middle of the hallway. I have seen this done where an addition was made onto where there previously was an exit, which also may explain this.

My old high school is not that financially well-off, so I doubt they’ll ever replace the Fire Alarm system until it fails outright. This takes renovations off the table because if they do any significant work on the building, they’ll have to bring the system up to code. This entails plumbing, electrical, gas, and structure updates (asbestos) in addition to completely replacing the fire alarm system. They could probably re-use the same pull stations unless they’re required to go to an addressable system (though they could also use monitor modules to supervise the conventional pull stations in this case). However, they’d have to install new pull stations at exits and stairwells. The amount of signals that the building would require would be unreal as well. This building has maybe 16 Edwards AC fire horns and they are LOUD! Just some quick napkin math tells me to upgrade to a speaker/strobe system (which would probably be the requirement given that it’s a school) they’d require at least 50-ish signals.

My school is the same way. Built in 1951 and added onto various times in the decades following, most recent in 1995. They’re constructing a new building with construction starting in 2018, and I graduate in 2019 (last graduating class from the current building). Our school also has lots of issues due to the many additions and renovations that have been made over the years. The roof has over 35 different roofs as such (which does leak a bit in some areas when it rains; I’ve had the unfortunate occurrence of being in gym class once when this happened, and I didn’t see the puddle and slipped and fell; they normally put trash cans down to collect water if the roof leaks) and the building also has its fair share of issues. The fire alarm panel is from the newest renovation in 1995, and it works properly, by the signals are older and besides the 4903-9104/2901-9846 horn strobes in said 1995 affected areas, the primary signals are 2903-9101/2901-9838 horn/strobes, with oneTrueAlert and about 8 or 9 Wheelock Exceder horn strobes replacing units that have died. One of the two -9846 combos in the aux gym died and was replaced with a 4903-9252. Since the Exceders are two wire alarms and the panel codes everything to march time (the older combos from the 80’s and the ones from '95 are also set to two wire; no audible silence) the horns code to march time properly but the strobes flash slow because they’re coded. Now keep in mind, all strobes in the building are coded and due to its age this is allowed.



There’s also one -9838 combo in the World Language hallway that sounds sick, even though it’s pitch tab probably just needs adjusting.



But they probably won’t bother updating it to fix code violations because it’s a waste of money as the building is just going to be torn down in a couple years anyways.