Author Topic: Locked fire exits - how to be polite and not ridiculous?  (Read 7076 times)

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gmatoy

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Re: Locked fire exits - how to be polite and not ridiculous?
« Reply #30 on: November 12, 2012, 02:56:13 AM »
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


When I lived in Queens, there was a nightclub fire that also had fatalities. One of the things that was cited by every newscast was the Cocoanut-grove fire.

I was once at a tavern that had a stack of chairs in front of the back exits.  I had to leave; I just could not stay there knowing what I knew about getting out in case of a fire. The next day, I called the fire departmant and made an inquiry about it. I felt I was getting the brush off, so I said, " I lived across the street from a nightclub that had a fire. I do not want to have that happen here." Boom! Total different attitude. Later, I found out that complaints are often made by the competition, so he wasn't too concerned at first. (Neighbor was a firefighter and told me that.)

Last_Dance

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Re: Locked fire exits - how to be polite and not ridiculous?
« Reply #31 on: November 12, 2012, 06:06:47 AM »
snappylt, just reading the title of your topic gave me goosebumps: rules in my country were changed after a fire in a movie theater - and since it happened here in my city, everybody knows about it even 40 years later.

You weren't being ridiculous. "I'll look into it" might have been a honest answer, but if you said it felt like a brush off, I believe you.
Be firm and calm, remember you are in the right. Bring it up again if you see those doors blocked. Call the fire marshall.

As for your kindergarten, is that door only a fire door? I mean, nobody uses it regularly or it wouldn't end up locked all the time, right?
I know it might be expensive, but would it be possible to wire that to the fire alarm or a siren of some sort?
We're fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance.

camlan

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Re: Locked fire exits - how to be polite and not ridiculous?
« Reply #32 on: November 12, 2012, 06:50:15 AM »
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.

True. But in this particular situation, where those doors are open and accessible during the majority of the day, I'm not sure that's an issue. It really depends on why they are blocking those doors off after a certain hour--reduce theft, employee safety, just getting some of the closing routine done ahead of schedule.
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 #33 on: November 12, 2012, 07:45:50 AM »
Safety trumps etiquette.   I would call the city ordinance or fire marshal to complain.

I don't actually think this is a situation where "safety trumps etiquette" applies. There was no immediate emergency; this was a concern about something that may happen in the future. As such, there are still polite and impolite ways to go about expressing one's concern. The initial complaint was polite; I think the "what if I called the fire marshal right now" comment was snide and unnecessary.

Stormtreader

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Re: Locked fire exits - how to be polite and not ridiculous?
« Reply #34 on: November 12, 2012, 08:11:48 AM »
Is there a problem with calling in the Fire Marshall?
Im not sure how it works, but Id have thought that theyre either compliant in which case the FM will turn up, say "this is all fine" and go away again, or they arent in which case thats a health and safety risk and they should be pulled up on it.

It seems a bit odd to me to say "they should be given a chance to correct it before calling the FM in" - a fire can break out any time, if its wrong then it needs to be fixed as soon as possible.

Golden Phoenix

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Re: Locked fire exits - how to be polite and not ridiculous?
« Reply #35 on: November 12, 2012, 08:27:19 AM »
The supermarket I worked in had fire doors all over, one on the back wall, one on the side wall, two in the back as it was  a maze of offices etc, the main doors for customers and another one on the same wall but at the opposite end. They were the no-handle-outside-crash-bar type.

In accordance with company policy each of the doors was also fitted with a small red tag that connected the two parts of the double doors, they were designed to break away when the door was opened and would sound an alarm, they were also constructed in such a way that if they were cut the alarm would sound.

One sunday an alarm that i didn't recognize went off and all of the managers hared off in the direction of one of the back doors, a group of kids had filled up a couple of baskets with dvd's, sweets, drinks and toys and opened the fire door to escape, they were caught very quickly because of the alarm telling everyone a door had been opened.

From what i gathered while talking to the security guard the tags were really cheap and bought by the bagful from a supplier. Something like that would solve many of the proposed problems re: people using the doors for something they shouldn't.

Yvaine

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Re: Locked fire exits - how to be polite and not ridiculous?
« Reply #36 on: November 12, 2012, 08:32:56 AM »
Is there a problem with calling in the Fire Marshall?
Im not sure how it works, but Id have thought that theyre either compliant in which case the FM will turn up, say "this is all fine" and go away again, or they arent in which case thats a health and safety risk and they should be pulled up on it.

It seems a bit odd to me to say "they should be given a chance to correct it before calling the FM in" - a fire can break out any time, if its wrong then it needs to be fixed as soon as possible.

No, I don't see any problem at all with calling in the fire marshal. I just thought the way it was phrased in the OP sounded snide and a little like it was intended as a threat, even if that wasn't the way it meant. I find just calling the fire marshal less rude than insinuating and threatening you're going to call them, for some reason I can't quite articulate. Maybe it's because the fire marshal shouldn't really be a "threat" to scare people with by threatening to "tattle," but simply the professional whose job it is to deal with that sort of thing.

magician5

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Re: Locked fire exits - how to be polite and not ridiculous?
« Reply #37 on: November 12, 2012, 08:47:44 AM »
There are "push-the-bar" exit locks that are clearly marked that when pushed they will open in 15 seconds and sound an alarm. That might do the job.

In your area, like everywhere else, there are laws and standards about exits, and they were enacted for a reason. Go ahead and call the fire marshall - he (she) is there to see that they are complied with. If the store doesn't meet these standards, they'll be made to do so, just as the building must meet the codes of construction safety so it doesn't fall down on everyone. If the store doesn't meet the rules, they'll have to live with the official's decision, and if they do then you'll have to live with it.
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audrey1962

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Re: Locked fire exits - how to be polite and not ridiculous?
« Reply #38 on: November 12, 2012, 09:12:54 AM »
I think that if you run into a situation like that in the future, you should skip speaking with the staff and just call the Fire Marshal when you get home. There are a couple of reasons for that.

This. Next time, don't speak to the manager, just call the fire marshall.

WillyNilly

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Re: Locked fire exits - how to be polite and not ridiculous?
« Reply #39 on: November 12, 2012, 10:06:37 AM »
At my job we have a second door, which we must keep unlocked from the inside during business hours.  But outside, it doesn't eave have a knob or handle. This would be a simple solution for a grocery store.  If they are worried about someone inside opening it for an accomplice, they can get a contact alarm (when the door opens contact is broken and the alarm goes off).  At night instead of piling racks in front of the door the routine can simply be activating the alarm.  During the day when the doors are open, the alarm can be turned off. 

My high school had tons of fire doors.  We had 4 sets of 6 doors in & out of the building technically.  But in reality the only doors that were ever open, other then for fire drills, we one set in front where the guards sat.  The rest had no handles or knobs outside, and from inside would open no problem, but would set off an alarm in doing so.  Every movie theater I've ever been in has these kinds of doors as well, as do tons of businesses.  Even the NYC subway has  bunch of exits like this (although annoyingly people often don't care about the alarm and open then as a quicker way to exit routinely).

OP - fire safety is important.  And something people often take very laxly.  I think you should just call the Fire Marshall and let them handle it. 

sparksals

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Re: Locked fire exits - how to be polite and not ridiculous?
« Reply #40 on: November 12, 2012, 10:17:21 AM »
Safety trumps etiquette.   I would call the city ordinance or fire marshal to complain.

I don't actually think this is a situation where "safety trumps etiquette" applies. There was no immediate emergency; this was a concern about something that may happen in the future. As such, there are still polite and impolite ways to go about expressing one's concern. The initial complaint was polite; I think the "what if I called the fire marshal right now" comment was snide and unnecessary.

So one waits til there is a fire?  This is in anticipation of safety.  I don't believe the comment was snide at all.  It is the wise thing to do since the manager didn't seem concerned about a fire danger and breaking the law. They most likely block the doors for their safety, but in doing so, they are putting their customers at risk if there is a fire.

sparksals

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Re: Locked fire exits - how to be polite and not ridiculous?
« Reply #41 on: November 12, 2012, 10:18:40 AM »
Is there a problem with calling in the Fire Marshall?
Im not sure how it works, but Id have thought that theyre either compliant in which case the FM will turn up, say "this is all fine" and go away again, or they arent in which case thats a health and safety risk and they should be pulled up on it.

It seems a bit odd to me to say "they should be given a chance to correct it before calling the FM in" - a fire can break out any time, if its wrong then it needs to be fixed as soon as possible.

Exactly!


Yvaine

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Re: Locked fire exits - how to be polite and not ridiculous?
« Reply #42 on: November 12, 2012, 10:36:37 AM »
Safety trumps etiquette.   I would call the city ordinance or fire marshal to complain.

I don't actually think this is a situation where "safety trumps etiquette" applies. There was no immediate emergency; this was a concern about something that may happen in the future. As such, there are still polite and impolite ways to go about expressing one's concern. The initial complaint was polite; I think the "what if I called the fire marshal right now" comment was snide and unnecessary.

So one waits til there is a fire?  This is in anticipation of safety.  I don't believe the comment was snide at all.  It is the wise thing to do since the manager didn't seem concerned about a fire danger and breaking the law. They most likely block the doors for their safety, but in doing so, they are putting their customers at risk if there is a fire.

Oh, sweet mother of Ehell, no, one does not wait until there's a fire. You are completely misinterpreting me. My point is that when there is a concern rather than an immediate emergency--and if you check my earlier posts in the thread, you'll see that I'm really concerned about the issue--when there is a concern rather than an emergency, one can phrase things politely. One still says them--but the phrasing is different.

If there's an actual fire, you don't go "Sir, might I bring it to your attention that there is a fire?" You just say "Fire" or pull an alarm. But when there is not actually a fire, there is room for social niceties in the phrasing. It doesn't actually take any longer to phrase it more nicely, and the odds of a fire breaking out while you're in the middle of asking about it are infinitesimal. I just think "safety trumps etiquette" is so overused it's become ridiculous.

If you disagree with me that the OP was snide, that's fine. But please do not characterize me as wanting the issue swept under the rug, because that couldn't be farther from the truth.

rose red

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Re: Locked fire exits - how to be polite and not ridiculous?
« Reply #43 on: November 12, 2012, 10:38:45 AM »
We don't know if he's breaking the law.  All the grocery stores I shop at and worked at have emergency doors with alarms in the back and side and they are never blocked.  But at least one of the two or three automatic doors in front is usually locked during night time when there are few customers.  Many stores only have one door in the front.  I hesitate to compare this situation to a packed nightclubs or schools that blocked/locked their only front door and emergency exits.

Calling the fire marshal to investigate this store is fine and a smart idea, but at this point, we don't know this store is breaking any codes. 
« Last Edit: November 12, 2012, 10:42:36 AM by rose red »

sparksals

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Re: Locked fire exits - how to be polite and not ridiculous?
« Reply #44 on: November 12, 2012, 11:03:32 AM »


Safety trumps etiquette.   I would call the city ordinance or fire marshal to complain.

I don't actually think this is a situation where "safety trumps etiquette" applies. There was no immediate emergency; this was a concern about something that may happen in the future. As such, there are still polite and impolite ways to go about expressing one's concern. The initial complaint was polite; I think the "what if I called the fire marshal right now" comment was snide and unnecessary.

So one waits til there is a fire?  This is in anticipation of safety.  I don't believe the comment was snide at all.  It is the wise thing to do since the manager didn't seem concerned about a fire danger and breaking the law. They most likely block the doors for their safety, but in doing so, they are putting their customers at risk if there is a fire.

Oh, sweet mother of Ehell, no, one does not wait until there's a fire. You are completely misinterpreting me. My point is that when there is a concern rather than an immediate emergency--and if you check my earlier posts in the thread, you'll see that I'm really concerned about the issue--when there is a concern rather than an emergency, one can phrase things politely. One still says them--but the phrasing is different.

If there's an actual fire, you don't go "Sir, might I bring it to your attention that there is a fire?" You just say "Fire" or pull an alarm. But when there is not actually a fire, there is room for social niceties in the phrasing. It doesn't actually take any longer to phrase it more nicely, and the odds of a fire breaking out while you're in the middle of asking about it are infinitesimal. I just think "safety trumps etiquette" is so overused it's become ridiculous.

If you disagree with me that the OP was snide, that's fine. But please do not characterize me as wanting the issue swept under the rug, because that couldn't be farther from the truth.

Sheeesh.  I think you are overreacting.  I'm not characterizing you in any way whatsoever.  You are choosing to take something personally.  I disagree the OP was snide and I believe this is a safety trumps etiquette issue.  You disagree with that which is also fine.