Michael Brennan, lifeline product manager for Draka, recounts his experience with ExitPoint™ directional-sound technology during a middle-of-the-night evacuation at his hotel.
I was staying overnight in a hotel in Ontario, Canada. It was about 1 a.m., and I was asleep in the room. Then I heard the fire alarm go off – and being that I work in the fire-protection industry – I reluctantly got up. I thought for sure this was a false alarm, but it would be just my luck to get injured in a real fire.
So I got dressed and walked out of my room. I then realized I didn’t know where the fire escape was or any of the stairwell locations. I was a little nervous about that.
But then I heard this horrendous noise that attracted my attention – almost like a white noise, repeating itself. It was intuitive to look for the source of the noise. It was coming from a sounder located right above a door. I then knew it was meant to lead me to the stairwell. Sure enough, that’s exactly where I was supposed to go.
A couple months later, I was listening to a life-safety presentation hosted by the Society of Fire Protection Engineers, and the speaker, Dan O’Connor of Schirmer Engineering, was talking about directional-sound technology. He turned on a sounder device and I immediately knew I’d heard that noise before; it was that same annoying sound I had heard at that hotel in Ontario. It’s interesting how a noise can draw your attention so much and lead you to safety. When you hear it, you intuitively look around to find the source of the sound. In a situation where you have smoke obscuration, if you can draw people to the exits by sound, you are doing pretty well. If you set this as a standard, and more people become accustomed to the sound and understand what it is, it will make the exits easier to find.
The bottom line is: Directional-sound technology will save lives.
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