In case of fire, go to lunch

Date:September 6, 2006 / year-entry #303
Orig Link:
Comments:    22
Summary:Late one morning, the fire alarm went off at work. Everybody dutifully filed out of the building and waited for the all-clear signal. A few of us looked at each other and said, "Let's go to lunch." "I'll drive." "Shotgun!"

Late one morning, the fire alarm went off at work. Everybody dutifully filed out of the building and waited for the all-clear signal. A few of us looked at each other and said, "Let's go to lunch."

"I'll drive."


Comments (22)
  1. BryanK says:

    "In case of fire, do not use elevator."

    (scrawled in pen below:)

    "Use water"

  2. Chad says:

    Interesting. We’re specifically told not to leave the property to aid in making sure that everyone is safely out of the building.

  3. Puckdropper says:

    Sometimes I think the only reason people leave the dorms at my school is to get away from the awful noise the fire alarm makes.  It’s very much a "boy who cried wolf" thing.  

    Once I took the time to gather the stuff I was working on and then leave.  

  4. AC says:


    Are you in a smaller building? With all the comings and goings in the average MS building, I don’t think there’s anyone who knows who exactly is in the building at any given time (including security).

  5. Cooney says:

    People did that at my school mainly because the fire marshal would fine us otherwise; it was usually some jackhole at the frat next door that thought yet another 2am fire alarm pull would be funny.

  6. Asztal says:

    Puckdropper: It’s quite the opposite here (well, last year in the university halls of residence). I managed to sleep through a fire alarm, it’s that quiet.

  7. Sven Groot says:

    On average, the fire alarm in the building where I live goes off about once a month. It used to be worse though; when I first came to live here it went off almost once every day!

    As a result, nobody pays any attention to the fire alarm anymore. I know I don’t.

  8. Some companies require everybody who was in the building stick around, because they get lower insurance rates if they do so.

    I can see the advantage, from the fireman’s POV, of knowing how many people are still in the building.  Not sure how this translates into insurance rates, though.

  9. Jamie says:

    I’ve always managed to snoop the fire alarm test and arrange my absence. Unfortunately or fortunately depending on POV this skill does not work for real fires.

  10. Pete says:

    At a place I used to work, you could tell the fire alarm was a test because they always ran it at 3:05pm, five minutes after the pubs had shut. There was one delicious occasion, though, where either there was a new fire marshal or the regular guy’s watch was wrong, because they sounded the alarm at 2:57pm.  Looks were exchanged. The result was a new UK allcomers record for the "Seventh Floor To Pint-In-Hand Dash".

  11. James says:

    About this time last year, the power station in our basement thought it would be fun if the different voltages got to meet each other, with … well, the fact five fire engines appeared on the scene probably describes the consequences. Too late to go for lunch, though, just a coffee – then an early return home, since without electricity there’s very little most IT departments can do!

  12. Dave Harris says:

    Chad: "Interesting. We’re specifically told not to leave the property to aid in making sure that everyone is safely out of the building."

    That’s what I’d expect, too. We have a role-call system so I guess you could leave after your name has been checked off.

    (Our role-call is driven by the access-card system. We have a computer that knows who is in the building at any time, and when there’s a fire this computer produces a print-out for the marshalls. Colour me skeptical.)

  13. Michael Dwyer says:

    We got in trouble for going to lunch during a fire alarm.  Apparently, the alarm was somewhat legit, and the firemen were angry about having to bust through a tide of cars flowing out of the parking lot to get to the building.

    They supposedly use the card access systems to do a roll-call, too.  I’m dubious.

  14. Chester says:

    Heh, at a web portal I used to work it was *way* worse: whenever the company met some goal (such as beating some competitor in page views, or closing a great deal), the presidend himself run the fire alarm… to celebrate!

    Of course, after some time, nobody paid attention to the alarm. I hope a real fire never happens there (on a second thought, if there was nobody there the *best* thing that could happen to public safety on that area would be a real fire on that building…)

  15. David Walker says:

    Pete:  Why is a pub closing at 3:00 PM?  3:00 AM I can see, but 3:00 PM?  

  16. Ryan says:

    The stick around would work if everyone was required to use their cardkey to gain access AND to leave the building. That’s not the case.

    Ask anyone in the Navy what a pain it is to muster when they have a man overboard call, and they’re in a contained enviornment.

  17. Nigel Harper says:

    David: For many years English licensing laws forced pubs to close in the afternoon, usually at 3pm, and reopen later for the evening session.  I’m not sure whent his changed to allow all day opening, but I’d guess somewhere around 10 or 15 years ago.  Presumably Pete’s story pre-dates this.

  18. Michael Puff says:

    Could please somebody explain to me the shotgun-thing? I followed the link but I didn’t get it. Maybe it’s because I’m German and I can’t think of a German tradition, that could came close to it. ;)

    So when do you call “Shotgun” and why?

    Thanks in advance.

    [You call “Shotgun” to claim the front passenger seat when riding in a car. The rules surrounding this convention are rather complicated, hence the need for a web site to describe them in detail… -Raymond]
  19. Michael Puff says:

    Thanks Raymond, that was all I wanted to know, but somehow the web site wasn’t able to explain it to me.

  20. Richard says:

    "Let’s go to lunch."

    Far too easy.

    Fire alarm goes off, look at watch, 16:25, pack up notebook quickly and go home.

    Albeit driving through the crowds standing around in the car park took a little time…

  21. I was recently at a client’s site on the hottest day of the year. A power outage caused by nearby construction work caused the two emergency generators to come onstream, one of which promptly overheated and caught fire. We all trooped outside to wait in the sun, where the premises manager flagged down an ice-cream van that was passing, and told the vendor to give everybody whatever they wanted and bring the bill in later :-)

  22. Paul says:

    A few years back, I was working in a 3 storey open-plan building with open kitchen areas.  I had left a bottle of fruit juice in my desk over a v hot summer long-w.e.  I dumped the thoroughly fermented and reeking sludge down the sink when I discovered it in the late afternoon.  Some busy-body thought she smelt a gas leak and had the building evacuated!  My manager suggested we go down to the pub as it was going to take ages to sort out. :-)

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