A wolf in Jacksons Landing?

Probably not but there are a lot of false alarms. And we all know from the proverb what happens when you cry wolf too many times.

Jacksons Landing is the area of Pyrmont where I live in Sugar Dock, a 20-storey high rise. It is all very modern, with great “resort” facilities.  We love it.

One drawback is the fire alarms – all, thankfully, false up to date.  The buildings have loud speakers.  From these come a warning beep-beep that starts softly and gets louder.  Then a recorded, human, voice tells us time and again to stand by.  Then the tone changes to more of a klaxon, a whoop-whoop, and the voice becomes more urgent and declares: “Emergency. Please evacuate as directed.”

So, we do.  It is nerve-twanging since a fire is not something anyone likes to contemplate.  Also, it is physical – walking down 15 flights of stairs from the 16th floor (there is no Ground Floor: it ends on 1). It must be tough on people who walk less than I do. Outside the building, you can still hear the klaxons and warnings.  We walk to the open grass area near the water and wait to see what happens.

There are usually fire engines to watch, coming from the City and from Glebe, the next suburb out.  There are also plenty of people griping about how often we have fire alarms – all false. Then we can hear that the klaxons have stopped – and people take that as a sign we can go back inside.

In some ways, I’m glad that the system exists and that I’ve had a few chances to test it out without a fire.  In other ways, the whole thing worries me.  You see, I know there are lots of people who don’t evacuate because it has happened too often for them.  I also remember being told never to take the cessation of an alarm as an all clear – it might simply be a symptom of the fire spreading.  It’s all so important to us and our lives and homes; and yet we get no information.  Surely, there can be something done to reduce the risk that people will not evacuate when it turns out to be a real emergency and that people will die.

There are three aspects: easy to find instructions of what to do when the fire alarm goes off and where to go; confirmed all clear statement; information on what happened.

1. Instructions: I’ve looked on the web site and managed to track down the emergency procedures.  It would be helpful to put them in the “Safety” part of the web site.

2. All clear: It would be sensible to find a way to have an All Clear announcement to follow the ending of the klaxon, rather than just relying on no-klaxon. We know that the building manager has access to the intercom system, being able to talk to every apartment.  So maybe that is one way but maybe there is a better way.

3. Information: A quick note, posted on the website, perhaps, again in the Safety section, could give date and time and an official statement of what happened – I bet the fire service has to have that for their records.  Of course, this might make systemic problems more obvious – but not much more obvious than they are to residents already.

My thought is that these sorts of actions will make the emergency system work for residents’ benefit and make it clear that there are no wolves in Jacksons Landing!

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