How many people does it take to stop the fire alarm from beeping every minute?

Today I got to work and the fire alarm was beeping in that “my battery is dead” beep.  I told the dispatcher and said that if he could change the battery it would probably save the life of the person I would kill if I ended up listening to it all morning.

He and company’s general dogsbody guy went in and opened up the alarm.  No battery.  It’s hooked up directly to the electric.  There was no button to push to turn it off.  It just continued to beep.

So they called the owner.  He came in and was sure he knew the solution.  But couldn’t figure it out.  One of the general managers showed up and spent sometime in there with the owner, at one point falling off a ladder but not getting hurt.  Several drivers gave pointless commentary.

So the owner called the fire alarm company.   Turning off the electricity was tried on multiple occasions.  He even went so far as to turn off the electricity in the entire building.  That fucking thing just kept beeping in the dark.    The fire alarm company told him it couldn’t be beeping if they turned off the electricity, despite the very reality that it was in fact beeping.

He called in an electrician.  He and the electrician spent 2 hours searching for a sensor that could be beeping.  Finally the electrician gave up and left.  It was still beeping.

You know – in the old days this beeping would have been competently handled by the dogsbody.  He would have replaced the battery.  The owner would not even have been aware that the dogsbody did it until Monday morning, if then.  It would have been that trivial.

Instead highly paid people spent 6+ hours trying to fix it and failing.  And I’m not really sure we have that much greater advantage to this fire alarm system than the old independent battery operated units being set up every so many per number of square feet.

When I left it was still beeping.  Tomorrow the fire alarm people will show up and attempt to fix it.  I don’t hold out much hope.  I think the building could burn down and that fucker would still be beeping every minute.

11 thoughts on “How many people does it take to stop the fire alarm from beeping every minute?

  1. We had a similar problem with the first hard wired system. Turns out there was a battery in one of the alarms. By the time my husband found it, several of the units were in the front yard. Did I mention it was 3 a.m.?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think the sledgehammer was an option considered and also just cutting the wires. But after hour 2, no one was really sure the alarm we were staring at was the actual thing that was beeping. Depending on where you stood it sounded like it was coming from different places. The sound just sort of echoed up in the ceilings. It was deeply frustrating.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. If it’s a typical commercial system there’s a battery backup somewhere, probably back at the main control panel. Most likely it’s the sensor that’s gone bad. Someone on staff should really know how to operate the system but they usually don’t. At the school where I worked no one knew how the dopey thing worked. I finally found the manual on-line and printed off multiple copies with the pages dealing with the more common problems flagged. Considering how important these systems are you’d think the building owners or maintenance staff or someone would know how they operate, but the situation you describe is very common I’m afraid.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I suggested a google search but he called them and it’s hard to argue that the help desk is worse than a google search. But having worked in call centers my whole career, I know they occasionally are.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Call centers can generally deal with a lot of this stuff but it depends on how well they’ve been trained themselves. When I was servicing point of sale systems our clients were supposed to call the office if they had problems or questions but they could never be sure who they’d be talking to over there. They weren’t supposed to call me directly. But one of my clients had the number of my company cell phone and they started passing the number around to the other stores and before long they were all calling me directly rather than going through the office because they could be sure I’d do something about whatever problem they had. My boss didn’t like it when he found out, but our job was keeping the clients happy and keeping their equipment working so he didn’t try to stop it. I ended up doing almost as much client training and support as I did actual repair and installation

        Liked by 1 person

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