What is the most effective fire alarm sound?

What do you think is the most effective fire alarm sound?

Personally, I think that the whoop sound from the Firecom 8500 is the most effective fire alarm sound. I would say that the Simplex 4100u/es whoop comes in a close second.

1 Like

Seems like Europe for one can’t decide on such considering all the different sounds each country uses to indicate “fire”: an international scientific study oughta be done to evaluate existing sounds along with some new ones that would be created for the study & determine which is the best at getting people’s attention, among other things (though I think having every system do temporal code 3 since that’s the international/internationally-agreed-upon evacuation signal (despite seeming only North America actually making use of it) would be a good idea).


I’m pretty sure that Australia is also starting to use temporal 3 as well (mostly a whoop in the temporal 3 pattern).

I don’t know about Australia but I know New Zealand has a standardized alarm sound, or at least voice evacuation tones & messages: an intermittent beep tone for first stage, & a slow whoop tone for second stage, accompanied by “Warning! The fire alarm system has operated, stand by for further instructions” & “Evacuate the building using the nearest fire exit” respectively (which I guess is pretty good but every system sounding the same is pretty boring I’d say).

On the subject of “effective fire alarm sounds”, I think it’s important to know just what “effective” means in this case: effective in getting people to leave the building, or effective audibility-wise? (& possibly other factors too)

1 Like

I’m about to get real specific here. Yes, a temporal tone should be universal. I have a specific frequency range in mind. Overtones could be a 2400-3500hz square wave possibly sweeping/warbling. Undertones could be a~60/100/120hz. Sawtooth wave (Except for sleeping areas where a 520hw tone is used

Good starting point, but I’d still say that a study would be the best way of determining which/what pitch(es) & what kind of tone works best.

1 Like

Considering the tones’ similarities to the SpectrAlert advance, and simplex truealert, we already have a good baseline, now like you said, we could do a noisy environment test. The tone should not only be able to penetrate ambient noise and grab attention, but it should convey a message of undeniable immediate danger. It should make people think “oh s*** there’s a fire,” without inducing panic

That is the problem with mechanical horns. They are loud and scary, but does that necessarily translate into people treating them as fire alarms? They also have a lower pitch so they can blend into background noise much easier.

This video is a good example of this. Notice how the many mechanical horns blend into the background much more than the one or two electronic horns throughout the video.

While the electronic horns are quite prominent, mechanical horns seem to stand out, and get the message across that there’s danger possibly better than the electronic horns

Honestly I can hear the mechanical horns just fine: heck because of them I don’t think I’m able to even hear any background noise! (they’re sounding continuously though so that might be why they blend in some: if they were being pulsed in temporal 3 like the electronic alarms maybe they’d stand out more)

Exactly my thoughts: low-pitched alarms just seem to be better anyway.

Ehh, overtones help with electronic horns where there’s less vibration than on a mechanical horn

I’d think Eastern Asian systems are also very good with that too although their voice evacuation systems work a little differently.

If you want to hear what would be the most ideal and effective voice evacuation message, I’ve put together a combination of those (On the emergency evacuation part) which I think this would be super effective and recognizable on an international scale:

I think it would just be better if everyone adopted similar-sounding tones & messages (after a study determining which were the best was done of course).