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December 3, 2015

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The 2022 State of Physical Access Control Report

Video: Watch How Long it Takes these People to Respond to a Fire Alarm

Without leadership – and it’s a problem exacerbated by the frequency of false alarms – most people assume a fire alarm signals nothing serious.

How many minutes did it take for someone to finally respond to the fire alarm in this test conducted by health and safety e-learning provider iHasco?

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Alan Cox
Alan Cox
December 3, 2015 2:39 pm

This exercise is a replica of a television programme that was screened about 20 years ago with the same scenario  but instead of a “fire warden” a voice fire alarm was used during the second evacuation which achieved the same result. One aspect of the previous version that was interesting was that one of the people in the room in the first evacuation left after about a minute and was not allowed back into the room – when this person was asked why she left when no one else did, she responded that she was a nurse and had been… Read more »

Joe Deacon FdSc FIFireE
Joe Deacon FdSc FIFireE
December 3, 2015 7:25 pm

This is an interesting study that is indicative of human behaviour. As a fire safety instructor some years ago I used to test this theory with serving fire officers attending fire safety courses. The general response to the question posed into what action they would take in the event of the fire aalrm sounding was mixed in the fact that several individuals would wait for me to take action and this was discussed with several courses over a few years with interesting results not dissimilar to the fact that whilst they were on some kind of task they would require… Read more »

December 3, 2015 8:15 pm


Adam Bannister
December 4, 2015 3:39 pm

Joe Deacon FdSc FIFireE All good points Joe. I think you’re right about the herd mentality. Speaking as someone who merely writes about fire safety (as opposed to being an industry professional) and works in an office building I think any initial training about how to respond in an incident can eventually be forgotten. That said, we have fire wardens in our building who make sure everyone gets moving promptly but without rushing and it seems to work well. 

Would you be interested in commenting above the line too? Ie, providing quotes on articles I write in the future?

Adam Bannister
December 4, 2015 3:41 pm

Alan Cox Interesting and insightful as ever Alan. I think because 99 times out of 100 it’s a drill or false alarm people are naturally complacent. 

I’ll be in touch soon as would be good to get you commenting above the line again!

Joe Deacon FdSc FIFireE
Joe Deacon FdSc FIFireE
December 4, 2015 4:29 pm

Adam Bannister Joe Deacon FdSc FIFireE Hi Adam, of course where I have experience.

March 31, 2016 3:35 pm

Alan Cox  I’ve used that Video Clip for years, originally shown on Channel 4’s Equinox program, I had it on an old VHS tape which I often played to the responsible person if designing systems in  schools, hotels and public buildings as its a great example of peoples reaction to an alarm and really shows the merits of voice alarms. I was heart broken when a schools VCR ate the tape. After much searching the Web. I found Baldwin Boxall have it on their web site as a sales tool, which is handy as they have some good voice alarm equipment, but if the budget doesn’t… Read more »