What are some things that the General Public misconceives about Fire Alarms that drive you crazy?

What are some things that you often hear wrong about fire alarms by non fire alarm enthusiasts?

A lot of people in my classes in high school think the integrity horn on the wall in the classroom is a smoke detector and the sound and the sound comes from the PA. One person tried to prove it to me and we had a 5 min argument until I showed her an actual picture of the device. She knew she was wrong and walked away.

Alarm enthusiast: 1



Non-Alarm Enthusiast: 0


Lol! I know a lot of people often mistake Horns, Strobes, and Horn Strobes with actual smoke detectors.

The fact that people still believe one sprinkler head activates them all is still a very common misconception. That’s fine and all, the frustration for me comes from the fact that most people won’t give you the time of day for an explanations and would rather just believe their original thoughts.

Confusing commercial FA system smoke detectors with consumer-grade smoke alarms.



And the one that REALLY annoys me… Activating a pull station or a smoke detector will activate sprinklers… Is this possible? I personally heavily doubt it.

I mean, it would only do that if the pull station was an instant release for the sprinklers on a fire suppression system.

There do exist sprinkler systems which activate upon the sounding of a fire alarm, however the sprinkler systems that people typically come in contact with don’t do such. Office buildings, stores, malls, schools etc. don’t have such sprinkler systems.

Normally manual discharge MCPs are dual-action and yellow to avoid confusion, as defined where I live per NF-SSI and AFNOR standards.



That said, I actually meant “people thinking that activating a normal MCP can and will activate sprinklers”. Thanks for pointing out that detail :stuck_out_tongue:

Besides the classic “pull station triggers sprinklers” and mistaking NA’s for smoke detectors, I can think of a few.


  • Specifically being asked “Do you collect fire drills?” (I mean, if you count experience as a collection, then sure…)


  • The time in elementary school where a staff member pointed to a disconnected Edwards Fire Horn and told me “That’s where all the noise comes from”, despite that obviously not being the case.


  • A person, on my dream to have a home fire alarm system: “That doesn’t sound safe. Don’t you have to pull it for it to go off?”


  • Rolling my eyes when a student at my college thought the fire alarm (2901-9838’s in continuous) was someone’s phone vibrating. I might be only 23, but I was definitely thinking “Kids these days…”

That would have to be a pretty big phone to make such a large noise. I really hope he was being sarcastic.

Fire drills are abstract things not physical things and so cannot be collected.

Isn’t it the same mechanism though for phones vibrating and mechanical horns?



Either they were very deaf or joking.

A teacher at my school actually thought this once.



Another one: Calling unplanned fire alarm incidents “fire drills.”

As in “There was a fire drill today because a heating motor in the slp office broke and caused smoke.”

Thinking that lifting the stopper and it starting to squeal means that the fire alarm has been activated. What do they think the pull station is there for? Just for backup in case lifting the cover doesn’t sound the alarm?

That fire alarms can sense smoke and activate through picking it up rather than it being activated through the smoke detector and that tripping it.



Though to be fair, when I was younger I had a lot of these same misconceptions.

My science teacher thought that the ceiling mount genesis speaker/strobe was a smoke detector. I wasn’t super surprised at that one though - most science rooms are supposed to have smoke detectors, and the building designers coincidentally decided to mount a notification appliance to the ceiling.

I had to correct her on that but she wasn’t super sure when I told her. Not sure why the room didn’t have a smoke detector in the first place either.



I think another one could be that opening a stopper triggers the fire alarm.

'nother one 'cause why not?



Y’see those mini-horns they put in hotel rooms? People sometimes mistake these for security cameras and put tape over them, being persuaded that it’s a security camera or a microphone.



I’ve never seen this in person. but for sure I recall someone talked about this on the forums.

To be fair, the carpets make them seem a lot quieter, but come on, you should still know what that noise means.

Actually, people have found actual security cameras hiding beneath the grill of some fire alarm systems. It’s one of those really rare sights but it happens.

I’ve heard some teachers tell their students that the fire alarm NA in the classroom also functions as a security camera to scare them.