The Society That Cried Wolf

The fire alarm went off this morning at work.  A loud, ear-piercing alarm accompanied by flashing strobe lights warning everyone that something is amiss and we should vacate the premises immediately!

And not a single person moved, including myself.  After about 20-30 seconds of it going off, I grabbed my phone, keys and sunglasses and started to amble out of my office to find everyone kind of looking at each other (there’s a phenomenon called "prairie dogging" in cubicle land and it was in full effect, with everyone’s heads popping over to see what everyone else was doing), wondering what to do.   The alarm stopped at that point and everyone went back to work.

Why do we ignore fire alarms?  We also ignore car alarms and to a certain extent, smoke detectors (unless they go off in the middle of the night).  I suppose that there are a few theories: perhaps it is because car alarms are set off by a good rumble of thunder and a smoke alarm by an over-cooked pancake.  It could be because so many things have alarms that we have become somewhat immune to them.  Or it could be a fear of acting upon an alarm that could lead to getting into trouble if you do something wrong?  Perhaps it is simply an unwillingness to admit that something is going awry.

It reminds me of a time a few months ago when I was in a supermarket and the fire alarm went off.  Some of us paused, looked around and apparently we collectively decided that since there wasn’t an blazing inferno heading towards us, we were fine.  Others didn’t even bother to look up from inspecting packages of meat and checking nutritional panels. 

Eventually, the staff came out of the back, yelling at us, saying "you people need to GET OUT!!!"  As we begrudgingly left our carts behind and walked towards the front, the distinct smell of electrical smoke – that acrid, burning metal aroma – filled the area.  Everyone became more alert, and started moving faster.  The fire department showed up and I just left, leaving my abandoned cart in the cereal aisle.

One thought on “The Society That Cried Wolf”

  1. It really deepdns on the system. All of the bigger alarm companies use around the same level of product as far as quality. Be advised of the following, what the alarm companys do is sign you to a contract for years at a time. Say 4 yrs for 199.00 Right? ok and what they do is incrementally increase your monthly fee after that. The average total equipment cost for a small residential alarm system is right around that 199.00 wholesale so they lose a few bucks on the initial install to get you signed on for years at a time. They usually tie right into your phone system and if improperly installed , depending on your area they may have fines for false alarms. If you live in an area where home invasion is a possibility I would have one installed for sure. But make sure you shop around, Brinks and ADT are national companys. they sometimes pay installers by the job so sometimes these guys race in and out and are pulling baseboards to route wires all over and if improperly done can be a real mess. Professional installations costs far more, not so much for the equipment as they are typically about the same at the entry level, but for the time for a professional installer to come in and hide every wire. I would insist that not a wire show and that can be done , dont let them tell you different as I have done it, 15 yrs ago I did so. I am now a licensed master electrician and do much larger scale work. So in summation, if you feel unsafe in your neghborhood, have a high crime area, its worth it for the fire and the ability to silently call for help from a key pad. Things to avoid, Wireless systems, more trouble than what they are worth. Get a good Hard wired system installed professionally and make sure you read the total cost of what your signing. make sure they will pay for any fines incurred by an ill operating system. And if you do have one installed make sure they take hours with you to completely train you in the operation of your alarm system. get them to include this service in writing up front. And lastly I hope you never need to use an alarm. Other questions to ask, The systems use a dialer to call in, if in an emergency the alarm will cut off telephone service until it is finished dialing in. Also check and see where and how fast there dial up system is. I have seen where in remote locations its a long distance call to a monitoring center and there are also little system checks that can report in requiring a phone call usually programmed in the night. But if this call is long distance it can add to telephone bill. Also the battery back up on the controls, for 30 dollars a month you should get a new battery installed for free every two years or so, I would also ask for this. Watch for wording in the contract that allows them to raise the rates , and especially after your contract expires expect the rate to rise, they do this to all of there customers. i once went to a clients home to find she had been paying 90 dollars a month, She had been a customer with them for many many years. What i did was replaced her old system with a new one, charged her nothing, and placed her on a new contract Probably why i dont work there anymore LOL Anyway I have saved people with alarm systems and I have seen where it was a bad place to have it.Oh if you have pets , dont let anyone fool you into saying they have a special pet lense, its all BS, they always end up setting it off trust me I have taken them out in the old days..Good Luck

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