Author Topic: Locked fire exits - how to be polite and not ridiculous?  (Read 6828 times)

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LifeOnPluto

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Re: Locked fire exits - how to be polite and not ridiculous?
« Reply #15 on: November 11, 2012, 09:17:44 PM »
Well I guess technically they could be complying with the signs. The doors could very well be unlocked. They just happen to be blocked by massive objects!

Anyway, I don't think you were rude.

camlan

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Re: Locked fire exits - how to be polite and not ridiculous?
« Reply #16 on: November 11, 2012, 10:00:46 PM »
There are locks that allow people to leave through a door, but not enter through it. The store should invest in a few of those.

I'd call the fire marshal at this point.

I once had to deal with teaching in a university auditorium with entrances front and back. At mid-semester, the front entrances were chained shut. There were no locks on the outside doors, so they just chained them closed. I brought the matter up, and was told this was necessary for a weekend when an  visiting orchestra would be playing in the auditorium, and needed to store their instruments in the lobby.

However, the chains were still there two weeks after the orchestra had left. When two more visits resulted in nothing and the chains were still there, I called the campus fire department. The chains were gone in two days.

That auditorium was designed to have people enter and exit from both the front and back. If a fire had started, or if a fire had started in the back of the auditorium, bad things would have happened.

The following year, I taught in the same auditorium and the same thing happened. But I knew to go straight to the fire department.
Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, “I’m possible!” –Audrey Hepburn


Yvaine

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Re: Locked fire exits - how to be polite and not ridiculous?
« Reply #17 on: November 11, 2012, 10:17:12 PM »
As a teacher I have mixed feelings about this. You know the movie where the principal gets in trouble for locking the doors? I kinda lived that movie. Of course you want the doors unlocked for fires and there are laws to consider.  However, I have had people coming in doors like those with weapons. I don't think it is a ridiculous concern but the fact that they do it at night might be because people are sneaking in or out at that time when the store is less busy, and that could be a safety risk to you and to staff also.  The nuber of exits might be partly based on store occupancy so that when the store is busy ther are plenty of places to exit, which would explain why the manager thought there were enough for the time.

The idea that someone might block the fire exit to a building I'm in, because they're worried someone might break in, terrifies the living daylights out of me.  :o :-[ :-\ I think if a business is worried about that, they can get the kind of fire exit doors where there's no handle on the outside--they only open from the inside with a crash bar. You don't mess with fire safety like that.

That said, to the OP, I don't think "I'll look into it" was a brushoff; it sounds like he genuinely didn't realize he wasn't supposed to block those doors. And the "but we have plenty of exits" was less cool, but I think he was taken off guard and also wanted to reassure you in the moment, that everything would be fine in the meantime when he hadn't had the chance to look into it yet. I think the confrontational tone after that was unnecessary--either accept his answer or just call the fire marshal and report the situation, but no need to pick an argument about it and then call the fire marshal.

Sharnita

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Re: Locked fire exits - how to be polite and not ridiculous?
« Reply #18 on: November 11, 2012, 10:20:09 PM »
There are locks that allow people to leave through a door, but not enter through it. The store should invest in a few of those. I'd call the fire marshal at this point.

I once had to deal with teaching in a university auditorium with entrances front and back. At mid-semester, the front entrances were chained shut. There were no locks on the outside doors, so they just chained them closed. I brought the matter up, and was told this was necessary for a weekend when an  visiting orchestra would be playing in the auditorium, and needed to store their instruments in the lobby.

However, the chains were still there two weeks after the orchestra had left. When two more visits resulted in nothing and the chains were still there, I called the campus fire department. The chains were gone in two days.

That auditorium was designed to have people enter and exit from both the front and back. If a fire had started, or if a fire had started in the back of the auditorium, bad things would have happened.

The following year, I taught in the same auditorium and the same thing happened. But I knew to go straight to the fire department.

The problem with those doors is an accomplice from inside opens them for the people outside.  Or there is a situation like the tragic one in the movie thater where the shooter was inside, slipped out one of those doors and left it ajar and came in with his weapons.  The intent behind those doors is good but a lot of times they don't work the way they are intended.

thedudeabides

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Re: Locked fire exits - how to be polite and not ridiculous?
« Reply #19 on: November 11, 2012, 10:24:31 PM »
There are locks that allow people to leave through a door, but not enter through it. The store should invest in a few of those. I'd call the fire marshal at this point.

I once had to deal with teaching in a university auditorium with entrances front and back. At mid-semester, the front entrances were chained shut. There were no locks on the outside doors, so they just chained them closed. I brought the matter up, and was told this was necessary for a weekend when an  visiting orchestra would be playing in the auditorium, and needed to store their instruments in the lobby.

However, the chains were still there two weeks after the orchestra had left. When two more visits resulted in nothing and the chains were still there, I called the campus fire department. The chains were gone in two days.

That auditorium was designed to have people enter and exit from both the front and back. If a fire had started, or if a fire had started in the back of the auditorium, bad things would have happened.

The following year, I taught in the same auditorium and the same thing happened. But I knew to go straight to the fire department.

The problem with those doors is an accomplice from inside opens them for the people outside.  Or there is a situation like the tragic one in the movie thater where the shooter was inside, slipped out one of those doors and left it ajar and came in with his weapons.  The intent behind those doors is good but a lot of times they don't work the way they are intended.

Unfortunately that's still no excuse for preventing people from using them.  There's no sense in setting up a repeat of Cocoanut Grove.

http://www.celebrateboston.com/disasters/cocoanut-grove-fire.htm

onikenbai

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Re: Locked fire exits - how to be polite and not ridiculous?
« Reply #20 on: November 11, 2012, 10:28:50 PM »
If it is part of a chain, send a message to corporate.  Fire exits should never be blocked but I think it's a bit of an over escalation to call in the fire marshal without giving them the chance to fix the problem themselves.  If they are concerned about late night theft they need to invest in alarms for the doors.  It's not an expensive fix and it's much cheaper than massive lawsuit over wrongful death.

Yvaine

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Re: Locked fire exits - how to be polite and not ridiculous?
« Reply #21 on: November 11, 2012, 10:29:52 PM »
There are locks that allow people to leave through a door, but not enter through it. The store should invest in a few of those. I'd call the fire marshal at this point.

I once had to deal with teaching in a university auditorium with entrances front and back. At mid-semester, the front entrances were chained shut. There were no locks on the outside doors, so they just chained them closed. I brought the matter up, and was told this was necessary for a weekend when an  visiting orchestra would be playing in the auditorium, and needed to store their instruments in the lobby.

However, the chains were still there two weeks after the orchestra had left. When two more visits resulted in nothing and the chains were still there, I called the campus fire department. The chains were gone in two days.

That auditorium was designed to have people enter and exit from both the front and back. If a fire had started, or if a fire had started in the back of the auditorium, bad things would have happened.

The following year, I taught in the same auditorium and the same thing happened. But I knew to go straight to the fire department.

The problem with those doors is an accomplice from inside opens them for the people outside.  Or there is a situation like the tragic one in the movie thater where the shooter was inside, slipped out one of those doors and left it ajar and came in with his weapons.  The intent behind those doors is good but a lot of times they don't work the way they are intended.

Then use an alarm so you know it's ajar. Or train a camera on it.

I don't want to get legal and get the thread closed, but please look into whatever the laws in your area are on this matter. It's a pretty serious thing.

Sharnita

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Re: Locked fire exits - how to be polite and not ridiculous?
« Reply #22 on: November 11, 2012, 10:31:31 PM »
But the thing is that the fire marshall has not determined that there is a violation.  OP thinks there is but perhaps OP should actually let the fire marshall determine whether that is the case before we make that determination.

Yvaine

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Re: Locked fire exits - how to be polite and not ridiculous?
« Reply #23 on: November 11, 2012, 10:33:40 PM »
But the thing is that the fire marshall has not determined that there is a violation.  OP thinks there is but perhaps OP should actually let the fire marshall determine whether that is the case before we make that determination.

Yes, in the OP's specific case, we don't know that. I was addressing your post, which expanded it to a more general level.

kareng57

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Re: Locked fire exits - how to be polite and not ridiculous?
« Reply #24 on: November 11, 2012, 10:46:25 PM »
There are locks that allow people to leave through a door, but not enter through it. The store should invest in a few of those. I'd call the fire marshal at this point.

I once had to deal with teaching in a university auditorium with entrances front and back. At mid-semester, the front entrances were chained shut. There were no locks on the outside doors, so they just chained them closed. I brought the matter up, and was told this was necessary for a weekend when an  visiting orchestra would be playing in the auditorium, and needed to store their instruments in the lobby.

However, the chains were still there two weeks after the orchestra had left. When two more visits resulted in nothing and the chains were still there, I called the campus fire department. The chains were gone in two days.

That auditorium was designed to have people enter and exit from both the front and back. If a fire had started, or if a fire had started in the back of the auditorium, bad things would have happened.

The following year, I taught in the same auditorium and the same thing happened. But I knew to go straight to the fire department.

The problem with those doors is an accomplice from inside opens them for the people outside.  Or there is a situation like the tragic one in the movie thater where the shooter was inside, slipped out one of those doors and left it ajar and came in with his weapons.  The intent behind those doors is good but a lot of times they don't work the way they are intended.

Unfortunately that's still no excuse for preventing people from using them.  There's no sense in setting up a repeat of Cocoanut Grove.

http://www.celebrateboston.com/disasters/cocoanut-grove-fire.htm


You beat me to it - I was thinking of that exact fire, where the owners chained the exit-doors to prevent people from entering without paying the cover charge.

Overall I agree with contacting the fire marshal rather than continuing to argue with the store manager.  Perhaps it's possible that in late-evening hours they don't have to have as many exit doors available as during peak hours?

Slartibartfast

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Re: Locked fire exits - how to be polite and not ridiculous?
« Reply #25 on: November 12, 2012, 12:05:09 AM »
A question: was it a setup where the front doors all open into the same entryway?  The stores near here seem to have that setup: one or two automatic doors from the parking lot into an outer room (usually with large displays like firewood or pumpkins or soda depending on the season, plus parked shopping carts) and then two doors from that room into the store.  Traffic flow generally goes in the right door (which dumps you into the shopping area) and the checkout lanes funnel you toward the left door.

If that's the case, I'm guessing the fire codes could indeed allow them to close one of the doors at the end of the evening.  The store is much emptier than it is during peak hours, and the two inner doors (at least here) are only ten or so yards apart, so I don't think it would be a safety issue to get out one door more than it would be to get out two doors.  Stores near here do often close one of the two inner doors (usually the one closer the checkout lanes) at the end of the day.

Either way, I suggest you do go ahead and call the fire marshal for clarification.  You don't have to "report" the store, but you can ask about the policy and what determines it, so you know for next time.

Sharnita

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Re: Locked fire exits - how to be polite and not ridiculous?
« Reply #26 on: November 12, 2012, 12:18:27 AM »
Yeah, there are a few -groceries around here that close their entrance/ exits on an entire side from a certain time at night until  a certain time in the morning. They close registers on that end too.

mbbored

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Re: Locked fire exits - how to be polite and not ridiculous?
« Reply #27 on: November 12, 2012, 01:11:43 AM »
The grocery stores in the past few places I liked did the same thing at night. I have no idea if it meets fire codes, but it's not an uncommon occurrence, regardless.

sparksals

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Re: Locked fire exits - how to be polite and not ridiculous?
« Reply #28 on: November 12, 2012, 02:21:50 AM »
Safety trumps etiquette.   I would call the city ordinance or fire marshal to complain. 

AylaM

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Re: Locked fire exits - how to be polite and not ridiculous?
« Reply #29 on: November 12, 2012, 02:53:21 AM »
I can't see a reason that the manager would need to be approached by you.  I'd say if you knew it was a violation you should have gone to the fire marshal.  If you didn't know then either contact the marshal or research then do so.

Maybe if you knew, you could mention it, but I couldn't see anything changing without some authority behind it.



The local bowling alley used to lock the side exits towards the end of the night.  It wasn't a great neighborhood and some violent crimes had taken place in that parking lot.  But with those locked there was only one double door that people could exit from.   Friday nights with leagues and open bowling, gearing up for cosmic bowling?  A couple hundred people, easy.  That wouldn't end well.

The worst part was after the initial argument the management sometimes sent new employees to lock the doors.  I remember once a new young teen girl was confronted by a small mob of drunk, screaming men for doing what she as told.  Poor girl.  Bad, bad manager.

I believe the fire marshal had to come to solve it.