“What better to wake up to…”

Broken pull station on the first floor of Potomac Hall, B wing (upperclass side)What better to wake up to… than the fire alarm?  Now let’s remember that I certainly don’t mind the sound of the fire alarm.  In our building, it’s a nice Code-3 temporal pattern, coming out of Wheelock AS horn/strobe signals.  If you want to hear it, go to my Fire Alarm Collection pages or to Schumin Web Multimedia Central.  But I don’t want to hear it, however, when it’s going off at four in the morning.  That is NOT my idea of fun.  I was sound asleep, and I’m shaken from bed by that sound, and going down the stairs to the front of the building.  A quick check of the annunciator panel (a map of the building that indicates where the alarm originated from), and it turns out that it was a pull station that was the source of the alarm.  Further investigation found out that it was not simply a pulled alarm.  That would be easy.  Turns out someone threw a beer bottle at the pull station, breaking the station, as you can see in the picture, smashing in the push-plate and either knocking the station loose to pop out the button in the back, or somehow knocking the handle down to initiate an alarm on the system.  Still, this is what makes fire alarm systems fun.  First of all, resetting the station and the panel has worked so far, as the alarm hasn’t gone off since the whole thing happened.  However, when maintenance comes in to replace the pull station (they’re not user-serviceable – they have to be replaced), they will probably initiate two more alarms before it’s over.  The first one will be to open the station in order to take it off the wall, since the screws that hold the station on are inside the station, which will release the button inside.  And thus fire alarm number one.  Hopefully someone will be at the panel to silence the alarm quickly.  Then once the new station is on the wall with the handle up and the system reset, it will have to be tested (in other words, they have to pull it), initiating alarm number two.  Again, we hope that the alarm is silenced quickly.  However, once the station and the panel are reset again, that’s the end of it.  No more alarms until something unrelated sets it off again.

Date posted: February 24, 2002

Notes: As it turns out, JMU maintenance did not replace the pull station, but was able to repair it instead. I was a bit surprised, personally.