Why do we Ignore Fire Alarms?

Why do we Ignore Fire Alarms?

February 8, 2021

We are all guilty of ‘It’ll never happen to me’ thinking, especially in regard to health and safety. There are instances where fire alarms activate when there is no fire (such as drills, burnt cooking etc) but it is important not to assume that this is the case. So why do we ignore fire alarms?

Recently, during a zoom call, there was a loud beeping through someone’s microphone. After ten minutes, they were asked about the sound.

They replied, “Oh that’s my fire alarm, it’s never a real fire though, I’ll just ignore it.” This response was concerning. When asked to exit the building, they scoffed, and reluctantly left.

As it turned out, a fire had started in an electrical room in the block of flats which was spreading. Upon their return, their attitude changed. They recognised that their initial indifference to the fire alarm could have had a terrible outcome, had they not been encouraged to leave.

The forementioned situation has similarities to what took place in a social experiment investigating how people behave when fire alarms are set off. The experiment (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MtX-10c3fT0) involved a group of unaware subjects filling out market research booklets while a fire alarm sounds. As the alarm blares, the subjects look around at each other, and wait for someone to tell them what to do. The experiment was repeated multiple times, and in most instances, the test subjects did not react.

Being the person to take charge and influence a group is nerve-racking for many, you become vulnerable to judgement. Amazingly, in many instances, the desire to blend with the group and not stand out is stronger than one’s survival instincts to get up and get out.

I will conclude this post by stressing the importance of taking fire alarms seriously. When you hear a fire alarm you should treat it as if there is a fire and you are in danger, even if you’re not 100% sure.

Stand up, take the lead, and react; after all you may save someone’s life.

For information about fire safety, please get in contact with Fast R Solutions Tel: 0800 246 1802

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