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Smells like burning

Fire alarm to stimulate greater sense of urgency.
  (+10, -2)(+10, -2)
(+10, -2)
  [vote for,

When the bells start ringing during a fire alarm test, people generally finish what they're doing, chat about how annoying fire drills are, collect their coats, scarves and bags, mill about the desk of the person they fancy from accounts, and spend the next 30 minutes in a state of unconcerned nonchalance, plodding down the stairs at the speed of a rolling bullet.

This is unproductive in a fire drill as it consequently cannot accurately evaluate the building's exit points in the event of a real fire. People need to be concerned - they need to hurry - in order to test the building.

An attack on the senses would do the trick. The fire alarms could release a pungent smell of burning wood and plastic, for starters. Further advancements could be made, including actual smoke machines planted by a "Real-Drills" service the night before. Smoke would seep through the elevators, and some rooms could be subject to a full simulation with bright red and yellow lights emanating from behind closed doors. Some shrieking might also help.

When people run screaming from the building you will know if your office block provides adequate exit routes in the event of a real fire.

-- to be used once in a blue moon so as to reduce the possibility of people being desensitised to the smell, sight and sound of fire. Which would be bad.

theleopard, Jan 09 2009

Not initially inspired by [sukiyaki]'s misspelling muscial_20fire_20alarms
Musky fire alarms. [theleopard, Jan 09 2009]


       I think it might be a little better to gauge peoples' reactions under stressful conditions then apply that to emergency exit design and safety standards.
FlyingToaster, Jan 09 2009

       Sounds like pretty stressful conditions...?
theleopard, Jan 09 2009

       Did you have a fire-drill as well today then [theleop]?
zen_tom, Jan 09 2009

       I once worked in a building where there really was a fire - we smelled it before the alarms went off, even though it was four floors above us.
The fire was in the lift winding gear on the roof, and the smoke got sucked into the aircon intakes and distributed around the building. [+]
coprocephalous, Jan 09 2009

       Indeed I did [tom]. There was little to no screaming.   

       (Thanks for bun [copro]!)
theleopard, Jan 09 2009

       Also some incentive may help. Depending on the general desires of the office workers, have a new fire drill,known fact, that freebies await the occupants outside. First come first serve, Concert tickets, a pedicure, the afternoon off with pay ( the slower to exit get burdened with paying the afternoon offs' pay).
Sir_Misspeller, Jan 09 2009

       What about penalties for those that don't get out> Last one out is a rotten egg, say, or a smouldering corpse?
Jinbish, Jan 09 2009

       How about teams of actors rushing around with movie FX flame-throwers?
AbsintheWithoutLeave, Jan 09 2009

       Do those movie FX flame throwers not still throw flames?   

       I'm umming and arring over the incentives ploy, as on the one hand, people will simulate the effects of panic by hurting each other to get some freebies, but on the other foot, it's potentially more accurate a test to make everyone think they're going to die.   

       Hmmm. A toughy. Plus the incentive has to icentivise everyone in the building, whereas I would assume directors and management would be less inclined to hurtle out of the office for some free Haagen Dazs vouchers.
theleopard, Jan 09 2009

       What about a *bad* odour? Regardless of the complacency of the individual, there would be motivation to leave. There would be no desensitising of responses to actual smoke. This idea came to me a few moments ago when, err, never mind.
4whom, Jan 09 2009

       We have to do weekly fire drills, and they are run much like this. A smoke machine is put in the position of the fire and left to run. When the smoke detectors go off the drill starts. Anyone trying to walk through a smoke filled space gets 'killed' and has to be rescued. It's amazing how people will blindly follow their normal exit routes even if they are full of smoke. We do use a flashing light for the fire, but it's blue, and the fake smoke doesn't smell anything like real smoke.   

       I definately recommend this for office fire drills, it would make people think properly about how they would get out if their normal route was on fire. Have a flame grilled bun.
MadnessInMyMethod, Jan 09 2009

       Good idea - better evaluation of emergency situations.   

       Bad idea - people will become blasé about smelling smoke   

       Good idea - do it very rarely   

       Bad idea - any real (or real-to-the-participants) emergency evacuation involves a risk of injury, especially if there's a crush at the badly-designed exit you were trying to evaluate.   

       I agree with [Sir Masspiller] - let people know it's a drill, but offer bonuses for rapid response. Strong incentive, but not enough to cause a stampede.   

       Overall []
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 09 2009

       //Bad idea - people will become blasé about smelling smoke// Not if it was merely malodorous and not smoke, like a... errr, never mind.
4whom, Jan 09 2009

       Yes, but I thought the idea as posted was to make people think the fire was real? Or did I misunderhend?
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 09 2009

       The idea, as it was proposed, was for people to take drills more seriously. Faux smoke was suggested to "light a fire", so to speak, under those who exihibit a certain lassitude to the drill bit (also so to speak). Concerns of desensitisation to an actual event were raised.   

       The introduction of a good reason not to be there (malodorous environ) was introduced to provide those not inclined to perform with a path of least resistance.
4whom, Jan 09 2009

       I'm not so sure that people wouldn't desensitize to bad smell, farmers and such are around all sorts of bad smelling things and they get used to it.
Spacecoyote, Jan 10 2009

       That's true, but [4whom] is saying they wouldn't be desensitised to the smell of smoke specifically, which is the key worry.
theleopard, Jan 10 2009

       Brilliant. I'd buy it. Reasonably priced. [+]
vincevincevince, Jan 10 2009

       //Do those movie FX flame throwers not still throw flames? //
Yes. So?
AbsintheWithoutLeave, Jan 10 2009

       Are they hot flames? Ones that have a tendency to burn things?
theleopard, Jan 11 2009


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