It has been noted numerous times, in multiple studies, that building occupants often ignore or are slow to respond to standard fire alarm sounders: this is ‘bystander apathy’. This article looks at the issue and suggests some solutions.
Bystander apathy – a condition where people ignore an emergency when they believe someone else will take responsibility – is the social psychological phenomena that can affect the pre-movement phase of an escape, prolonging the time it takes before people react to an audible alarm.
“There are multiple explanations as to why we have a natural tendency to dismiss alarms and any delay could prove critical or at worst, catastrophic,” says Steve Loughney of Siemens Building Technologies. “People respond to others around them and a collective position often emerges during emergencies i.e. if one person moves, there is a likelihood that others will follow with the reverse also true.”
Learn how to develop your emergency evacuation strategy and effective evacuation plans from Jim Burtles, FBCI, in his landmark book,