12 November, 2008

Fire Drill - One Canada Square

The fire alarm system at One Canada Square is a bit different to any others I have experienced...I guess it goes off about once a fortnight (when someone burns their toast in one of the kitchens or a birthday cake incident occurs), the first indication it's about to go off is a series of polite tones, a long low (and slightly crackly) 'boop' noise (accompanied by lots of people groaning and rolling their eyes), then a posh woman's voice comes on over the PA system "May I have your attention please, may I have your attention please, the fire alarm system in this building has been activated. Please remain at your workstations while the cause of the alarm is investigated"...at this stage, all the lifts in the building are locked down (it's happened at lunchtime before and we've all been trapped in the office muttering discontentedly) and down on the ground floor security guards will be running over to (and locking) the doors to stop anyone else coming into the building...then (normally) about five or ten minutes later the 'boop'ing noise will return and the voice will announce "May I have your attention please, may I have your attention please, the fire alarm incident is now over, the lifts and other services are returning to normal operation, should you hear a further emergency announcement after this one, please follow the instructions given, thank you for your cooperation"...

Today it was a bit different - the same wording apart from our attention being called to the fact that there actually *was* a fire and we were to evacuate immediately...and we are on the 20th floor... :(

I guess it took about 10 minutes stomping downwards to pass the sign that said "Concourse", but to add insult to injury the escape route then continued down through several other floors (a few called M and a number - nope, no idea) and then into the basement where we had to loop round through a few heavy fire doors that didn't want to open very far and then go back *up* another flight of stairs (grumble, moan) out into the cold bright autumn sunshine...at this stage about 20% of the people evacuating either headed straight into Starbucks or disappeared into the Cabot square shopping center leaving the rest of us to walk to our evacuation point (past lots of disinterested security guards) -
Canary Wharf Fire Drill #2
- where we assembled...so we waited there, the DLR clattering past above -
Canary Wharf Fire Drill #4
- no-one counted us, no role call was done...nothing like that at all, and within five minutes a small lady in a high-visibility jacket was waving us all to go back into the building...
Canary Wharf Fire Drill #5
Great. A fire drill...I put my poor old knees through 45 flights of stairs for absolutely no reason...bah...Still, at least the building was okay...actually, I was kind of pulled between wanting everything to be fine and anticipating the excellent pictures I could have shot if it really had been on fire... ;)
Canary Wharf Fire Drill #3
Anyway, once we finally all made it back up to our desks I did query why no-one seemed bothered if we had made it out alive or not and discovered that it's actually normal procedure here - two people on each floor are paid an extra £60 (per month) to be fire marshalls, their job (in the event of an emergency) is to scour every part of the floor they are responsible for to make sure that everyone is out, this (apparently) is much more reliable than trying to make sure everyone doesn't just nip off for a cup of tea or to browse round the designer clothes shops while One Canada Square burns to the ground (full of fire fighters sacrificing their lives to find people who are currently sipping a skinny latte and laughing)...


Anonymous said...

I hope the fire officers for your floor are not allowed to have holidays or sickness on the same day then...are you going to track them down and introduce yourself?

¨°º©[ Fink ]©º°¨ said...

I certainly hope not! ;)