Real-World View ~Fire Alarms ARE NOT an Effective Response Solution for Active Shooter Events

Fire Alarms Are NOT for Active Shooter Events

How you respond when there's an active shooter situation can make the difference between life and death.  In an active shooter situation, seconds count for safety.  All experts agree that the goal is to stay away from the shooter to ultimately avoid being shot.  This must be done immediately to avoid injury or death.  To understand why fire alarms are not an effective response strategy to an active shooter event, we must first understand the fire alarms themselves.

So What Happens When a Fire Alarm is Engaged?

When you think about fire drills, you get a bigger picture.  Everybody leaves.  They evacuate from the building in a slow and methodical manner.  It is orderly, the routes are planned, and the goal is specific to only evacuate utilizing the most direct route possible.  This is how lives are saved in a fire.  Know your exits, know your route, stay calm and in line and proceed with caution as you calmly walk yourself out of the building.

While this works quite well when there is a fire or a fire drill, people respond differently during a fire alarm than you would want them to respond to an active shooter.  When a fire alarm goes off, people immediately try to evacuate. If a fire alarm is used during an active shooter event, however, this can put people in harm's way, like in a hallway, where they can become easier targets for an active shooter.  

This is a tremendous issue because the room you are in may be the safest place for you during an active shooter event.  We hear people that have stated they would pull the fire alarm if they ever heard shots fired near their location.  If you're in a situation and you hear shots and a fire alarm, you must be aware that you need to check before you move from somewhere.  If you automatically leave the room or building you are in during an active shooter event, it could cost you your life.

Whom Are You Alerting When Pulling a Fire Alarm?

When you pull a fire alarm, you are alerting the fire department that there is a fire, smoke, or carbon monoxide issue at the facility where the alarm is engaged.  You are essentially requesting help from the fire department for a fire-related emergency.  Firetrucks, fire personnel, and paramedics will be on the way to engage with a fire event and possible injuries related to a fire event.  Equipment that will be headed your way will be intended to address a fire-related emergency, not a bad guy with a gun.

Fire Alarms Are NOT for Active Shooter Events

Why Active Shooter Events Are Different and Require a Different Response

An active shooter event is wholly different from a fire emergency event.  Fires require persons to calmly evacuate the building, no matter what.  Active shooter events can be nearly the opposite. 

  • While evacuation during an active shooter event is generally the most desired outcome, when an active shooter is present, people should only evacuate WHEN IT IS SAFE TO DO SO.
  • Fire alarms let the fire department know there is a fire-related emergency in a building. Active shooter events require alerts to go to the police and ultimately should indicate WHERE in the building the active shooter is moving.
  • People do not hide from a fire, they walk away from them.  Most times, they can move calmly and effectively communicate information via 911 because of this.  During an active shooter, a person may literally need to be absolutely silent to avoid being detected and shot by the assailant.  This makes the alert system vitally more important as the system must effectively communicate more life-saving information FOR those in danger rather than BY those in danger.
  • An active shooter event requires a good guy with a gun, the neutralize the bad guy with the gun.  Fire personnel do not generally carry guns, so bringing a fire extinguisher to a gunfight is likely to not work out very well for those seeking to have their lives saved.

Shooter in Florida Parkland School Shooting Pulled the Fire Alarm

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, is one of the deadliest mass shootings in the history of the United States.  The shooter, Nicholas Cruz, took an Uber to the school right before classes ended.  He then pulled a fire alarmThe orderly evacuation of classrooms is exactly what he had been anticipating, offering him a steady stream of targets.

Cruz is believed to have shot his way into the high school’s seniors building where he had been a student himself the prior year.   17 people were killed and another 12 injured.  The victims included students and adults. 

So should you pull the fire alarm during an active shooter situation? The answer is a resounding NO!


Critical Incident Response Technology

During a crisis event like an active shooter, when many (if not all) people involved will be experiencing some depletion of motor skills, having a plan to summon help is by far one of the most important keys to survival.  That is, calling the correct first responder professionals for help and making sure they have the right information IMMEDIATELY so that response can be IMMINENT.  Traditional methods of contacting the police have proven to be ineffective many times over as people experiencing the life-threatening situation have a difficult time remaining calm and communicating the information that police need to respond to.  This is where ASR comes in.

ASR Alert Systems is a patented state-of-the-art critical incident response technology specializing in the field of alert notifications to Law Enforcement and First Responders in the event of an active shooter or other crisis. Our technology can be customized to any industry, building, or event. We deliver customer-specific technology unmatched by anyone.

Our critical incident response technology uses hard-mounted buttons, mobile pendants, and an optional mobile phone application to DIRECTLY communicate with first responders in the area to significantly decrease response times to an active threat or crisis situation.  

Having dedicated hardware that is readily accessible and easy to operate is KEY when it comes to life-saving tools.  The methodology utilized to place the ASR Alert button stations is different for every client and/or organization. By having a dedicated button that is mounted in convenient locations (such as in a classroom or near office doors) or wearing a pendant, staff can activate an alert to staff and provide law enforcement with all of the necessary information to respond with the PRESS OF A BUTTON. By depressing the ASR Alert Button, Law Enforcement Dispatch know the location name, address, location within the facility, and type of emergency.

ASR offers the best commercial critical incident response technology solution in the industry. Our reliable and redundant methods of alerting persons who are in danger, as well as providing the fastest notification to law enforcement by communicating directly with police dispatch are not matched and we hold the patent on this direct communication technology.  

It's up to you to determine how you prepare.  As we continue to see active shooter events across the country, it's no longer acceptable to assume it can never happen in a particular community nor is it wise to rely upon a fire alarm to help during an active shooter event.  Let ASR show you how to prepare for the best possible outcome should an active shooter situation happen in your building.  SCHEDULE A VIRTUAL DEMONSTRATION FOR YOUR ORGANIZATION TODAY.  We are confident that it will be the most informative 20 minutes of time you will ever commit to your safety.

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