Air plz?
August 17, 2007 1:36 PM   Subscribe

Facist housing says we can't open our windows because it will set the fire alarms off...really?

I live in graduate housing. The fire alarm is by the window and ominously enough, the sprinkler is above my computer. It's a perfectly good day outside and I hate having all the windows closed, but there are signs all over the building saying "OMG if you open them the alarms will go off and all your stuff will be water damaged."

I realize the alarms are sensitive to humidity and we had a spate of very humid days, but now it's pretty low (42%) and I don't think there is a lot of danger. I tired to look up "danger levels" online and couldn't find anything...should I just suffer with stale air?
posted by melissam to Home & Garden (10 answers total)
Put a fan in the room and point it at the sensor. My fire alarm goes off if I leave the bathroom door open and shower too long and make the room all steamy. I wave a towel at the sensor, and it shuts off. I imagine a fan would do the same thing.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:39 PM on August 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

Sounds like you need a sprinkler cover, though, just in case.

Pushpins, tacking putty, and tupperware? Or perhaps just a good tarp?
posted by namespan at 1:47 PM on August 17, 2007

I wouldn't worry about setting off the sprinklers...they are only triggered by heat. The smoke alarm, on the other hand, could be triggered by dust particles or steam. Pointing a fan at it would most likely prevent such a false alarm, but it's not guaranteed.

Afterthought: There are some types of sprinkler systems that are triggered remotely by an alarm, but I'd be shocked if a dorm had such a system.

posted by flyingcowofdoom at 1:50 PM on August 17, 2007

In many sprinkler systems, activation of any sprinkler head in a zone, automatically trips all heads in that zone, the theory of operation of a sprinkler system being that to be effective, the system needs to get a lot of water on a fire, as early as possible. So, it could be that if your experimentation does activate the sprinkler system, you'll be creating a sprinkler event in many adjacent rooms, or your whole floor, wing, or whatever constitutes a "zone" for your system, as well.

I'd take the housing folks at their word, and go out, if I wanted some fresh air.
posted by paulsc at 1:53 PM on August 17, 2007

Yeah I always put seran (sp) wrap around the smoke detector and secured it tightly with a rubber band. Then, just for added peace of mind, I would blow a fan too. Never had a problem
posted by CAnneDC at 2:29 PM on August 17, 2007

Call whatever department is in charge of maintenance, and talk to them. Maybe the system is peculiar and easily triggered, but my guess is that somebody got overexcited with signs.
posted by theora55 at 3:19 PM on August 17, 2007

Yeah I always put seran (sp) wrap around the smoke detector and secured it tightly with a rubber band.

You may want to take this advice with caution. This constitutes tampering with the detector, and may have a hefty fine as a consequence. When I was in the dorms, we'd have the fire marshall occasionally swing through and make sure no one was doing exactly this (I imagine they were doing it because they wanted to smoke in their rooms).
posted by spiderskull at 1:06 AM on August 18, 2007

Run, don't walk ... move that computer. Under a sprinkler which might be set off by someone else opening a window in your building is not a good place for it, especially with the weather you describe.

Obviously you can't just experiment while somebody else' sprinkler could be set off by you actions. So it looks as though you are condemned to suffering while you talk to the building services people.
posted by Idcoytco at 8:17 AM on August 18, 2007

My college had stickers saying that opening the window would cause the window to break. After a while, I learned that everyone opened them anyway and I've never seen one break. I'm more liable to think that it was just to spook us into not using them to avoid routine maintenance.

This may be the case in your place, but maybe not. Asking an RA or student desk person for their experiences might shed some light.
posted by cowbellemoo at 9:32 AM on August 18, 2007

I'm also guessing that putting a "sprinkler cover" over the sprinkler is a. a fire hazard and b. not a good idea in case of inspections.
posted by IndigoRain at 5:37 PM on August 18, 2007

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