Well, tonight’s workout was fun…

6 minute read

May 8, 2014, 10:19 PM

I think this describes my workout at the pool tonight:


Yes, I got interrupted by a fire alarm.  I was simultaneously annoyed and delighted about the situation.  On the one hand, Olney Indoor Swim Center has a Notifier voice evacuation system, and I had never heard it go off in the three years that I have been swimming at Olney.  So I was delighted that I finally got to see and hear it in action.  On the other hand, though, I take my swimming quite seriously.  I find interruptions to my workout to be quite a bother, like the time that a storm-related power outage ended my workout early back in August 2012.  So a fire alarm during my workout annoyed me, because it knocked me out of my groove.

Spoiler alert: the fire alarm nerd in me won out over the serious swimmer in me.  This should come as no surprise to anyone.

So today, I was having my regular workout.  I normally start at 7:20 on Thursdays, and go for about an hour.  I got through the first thirty minutes, past my mid-workout calf stretch, and then I was just starting my fourth lap after stretching, when I saw strobes start to flash.  A few seconds later, the slow whoop tone began, followed by an evacuation message, in a female voice: “May I have your attention, please!  A fire emergency has been reported in the building.  Please leave the building by the nearest exit.”  Lifeguards cleared the pool, and it was time to go outside.  Thankfully, it was a very warm day today.  I would consider today to have had “good fire drill weather,” i.e. the kind of nice weather conditions that one would normally expect to have during a typical school fire drill.  We were only outside for a few minutes, but during that time, the folks at the pool who knew me well all commented to me how I was probably enjoying this quite a bit.  And let’s admit it.  I was definitely enjoying all of this.

Once they verified that it was an accidental alarm, caused by a child pulling a pull station, they let us all back in, even though they hadn’t reset the system yet.  This system was the kind where they could silence the audibles and leave the strobes, and so they did as much, save for an unsuccessful attempt at resetting the system, which stopped the strobes for a moment, before everything started up again (but they quickly killed the audibles again).  So the strobes were still flashing, but everything was still going on per normal otherwise.  I think that I was probably the one person there who wasn’t bothered by the fire alarm’s continuing to run while swimming.

When I finished my first lap after resuming swimming, I looked at the pull station that was in the lobby across from me, and noticed that it looked activated.  That station had previously been a Notifier BNG-1R (the Notifier version of the Fire-Lite BG-8), but a few weeks ago, I noticed what looked like vertical silver stripes on the pull station.  That seemed unusual, but I had chalked it up to my not wearing my glasses, and never bothered to verify if the station had been changed.  Turns out it was.  They had swapped out that Notifier BNG-1R for an Edwards pull station, and the handle was down.  Coming back on the next lap, I saw Herb, the director of the facility, looking at it in a puzzled sort of way.  I thought, uh oh, Herb needs some help, and jumped out of the pool to go help Herb reset the station.  After all, an Edwards 270A-SPO, unlike most pull stations, resets with a screwdriver, and the other pull stations at the pool, the Notifier BNG-1R (i.e. Fire-Lite BG-8) and the Fire-Lite BG-12, reset with a key.  Herb was initially confused, expecting to find a place to put a Notifier key.  I showed him how to open it, then I moved the switch back to normal (which was a little hard to do for some reason), reset the handle, and then snapped the station closed.

On that note, by the way, never did I ever think that I would one day be resetting a fire alarm pull station while wearing nothing but a speedo.  Just thought I’d put that out there.

After we got the station reset, with the handle hanging a little bit lower than I would have liked, but still up (and my commenting to Herb that this station really needs a break rod), we went back to the panel, which is in the back of the building.  There, Herb reset the system, after which it promptly went back into alarm, indicating that the alarm was originating from a pull station in zone 1 on the first floor.  After Herb silenced the audibles again, we went back up to the front, where the graphic annunciator is located, and verified that it was, in fact, the same pull station.  As it turned out, the switch’s being difficult to move back was most likely preventing the station from properly resetting.  At that point, the fire department showed up (they had already been notified that the alarm was an accident), and so I left to resume my workout, with the strobes’ still flashing.  It ended up taking three firefighters’ working on it to finally get that station to reset and stay reset.  I was a bit disappointed to see the excitement end, but everyone else certainly appreciated it.  The rest of my workout was so-so at best, since the alarm had gotten me out of my groove, and I had been paying more attention to the fire alarm than to my workout.

Funny, though, about that pull station.  I had photographed that pull station on December 17, to show a friend what kind of fire alarm equipment that the pool had.  This was the pic from December:

Notifier BNG-1 at Olney Indoor Swim Center

That is a Notifier BNG-1R on the wall.  And then here’s the same spot from today, now filled by an Edwards 270A-SPO:

Edwards 270A-SPO replacing that Notifier pull station

I’m sure that you can see why a person who is somewhat nearsighted would confuse the two from a distance, and chalk it up to nearsightedness.  Both are red with silver details, and have long vertical lines in silver.  Plus, considering that some of the original BNG-1 pull stations had previously been replaced elsewhere in the facility with BG-12 stations, I was sure that they would have stuck with Honeywell (of which both Fire-Lite and Notifier are part) equipment.  Guess not.  I suspect, though, that this pull station’s tenure in Olney may be a short one.  It was recently installed to replace the original station after a water pipe burst in that area during one of the many cold spells that we had this past winter, and I suspect that it may be replaced again if that switch continues to be a problem.

Then otherwise, I didn’t get any pictures of the panel, as my phone was locked up in my locker.  But for those wondering, this is the graphic annunciator in the main entrance, in a file photo from November 28, 2012:

Graphic annunciator at Olney Indoor Swim Center

At the time I took this photo, there was a trouble condition (since rectified) for a duct detector on the second floor.  I’m kind of surprised, however, that there was not a zone map somewhere in the room where the panel is located, even if it’s just a paper map taped to the wall.

Then the notification appliances at Olney are Wheelock ET-1070-WM-24:

Wheelock ET-1070-WM-24, surface mounted

The Wheelock ET-1070-WM-24 is an earlier version of the Wheelock ET-1070-LSM-24, which I have in my collection.  Most of the notification appliances at Olney Indoor Swim Center are surface mounted.  I have no idea why they did that, because a few are flush-mounted like one would otherwise expect.  So go figure.

Interestingly enough, this was also my first time hearing an American voice evacuation system, and hearing a canned voice evacuation message in person.  My only previous experience with a voice evacuation system was in Canada back in 1999, when the Delta Chelsea had a fire alarm while Mom and I were staying there, and that was a much older system, with no strobes or canned messages.

And that was that.  I was delighted to finally hear this system go off after having been swimming here for almost three years.  Now I wonder if that pull station will be different when I’m next at the pool on Monday…

Categories: Fire alarms, Olney, Swimming