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June 20, 2006 12:03 AM

Broken: Hotel fire alarm

WhoopHans Hinrichsen submits a picture taken at a hotel in Iowa:

This sign was on the door at a hotel in downtown Des Moines, Iowa where I recently stayed.

Couldn’t they think of something better to describe the fire alarm than “Whoop, whoop?”


wow, an excuse to use the word onomatopoeia in a post.

Posted by: gmangw at June 20, 2006 12:09 AM

this must be one of those hip-hop hotels I've been reading about...

whoop! whoop!

Posted by: abcdario at June 20, 2006 12:27 AM

It uses "whoop" so they can find the fire. When they hear "Whoop", there it is.

Posted by: Ted at June 20, 2006 12:34 AM

Neat. This is the kind of thing that makes stuff seem more human, so we can understand better and feel better.




Posted by: Fox at June 20, 2006 12:36 AM

I'd say not broken. A little ham-fisted maybe, but the point is plenty clear. I wonder, though, how it might be for a non-native speaker...

Posted by: Daniel at June 20, 2006 12:44 AM

"this must be one of those hip-hop hotels I've been reading about..."

Holla back, young'n.

Posted by: gamekid at June 20, 2006 01:11 AM

Im pretty sure that deaf people wont be able to tell if there is a fire.

Posted by: Alex at June 20, 2006 01:20 AM

Some fire alarms apparently speak diff languages too.

When I was at a church in Los Angeles, I saw a fire alarm thingy whose label described the sound in English as Whoop Whoop Whoop, in Español, it was Whup Whup Whup.

So, when it's activated, does it sound in English or in Español?

Not really broken, just silly.

Posted by: splatman at June 20, 2006 01:24 AM

funny.. but not broken.. people gotta stop sending stuff in just because they dont like it..

Posted by: yingjai at June 20, 2006 06:02 AM

Can't resist....

Whoop! Whoop! te doo.


Posted by: Glenn Lasher at June 20, 2006 06:43 AM

Look, it's posted in Just For Fun...

Posted by: ____ at June 20, 2006 06:50 AM

Wonder if the the voice that follows says something like:

"Whoop Whoop! Emergency, Emerency! There's an emergency going on! This is not a drill! This is a drill: (sound of drill)!"

(bows to "Red Dwarf")

Posted by: Pumpkin Noggin at June 20, 2006 08:33 AM

Not broken, but that's probably the second or third most ridiculous thing I've seen written in English. Whoop Whoop indeed.

Posted by: Ezra K. at June 20, 2006 10:06 AM

not broken; just trying to get the party started in case it gets hot in theeeeeeeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrreeeee!

Posted by: smartypants at June 20, 2006 10:09 AM

Not broken, just a bit odd-looking. The message the sign conveys is clear and concise. Trying to describe the sound in any other fashion would likely be less concise and more difficult to comprehend.

Posted by: eBob at June 20, 2006 10:30 AM

My question is why anyone would read a little information paper posted on a door. To everybody in the world not "bugged" by broken stuff it is a decoration.

Posted by: Cameron at June 20, 2006 10:38 AM

reminds me of a newspaper article where a woman was on a walk and told the police that some guys "woo-hoos" were sticking out. LOL

Posted by: Daniel at June 20, 2006 10:40 AM

If the fire alarm says "whoop whoop" then I wonder what the voice that follows it says....hmmmm, a conundrum indeed, I'm sure. (Look it up if you want to know what it means, you know, in a book. Remember those? Books?)

Posted by: lefty-chef at June 20, 2006 10:52 AM

This isn't broken at all! It's informal, but it gets its point made very efficiently. What would be better, "The sound of the alarm is a quickly rising pitch which repeats itself, then a voice."

Admittedly, the grammar could be better.

Posted by: Jonathan Harford at June 20, 2006 11:10 AM

I agree with Jonathan. The informality may seem out of place, but the sign EFFECTIVELY communicates what a fire alarm will sound like.

Posted by: Carlos Gomez at June 20, 2006 11:45 AM

Hey given how creative that we are getting any more with phone rings and other alarms such as alarm clock signals information about what the fire alarm sounds like would be a lot better idea than people seem to realize.

Posted by: Ray Stevens at June 20, 2006 12:12 PM

OK, my turn:

WHOOP, Thay it is! WHOOP, Thay it is!

And back to your regular life.

Posted by: Some old rapper at June 20, 2006 03:24 PM

Odd phrasing but not "broken".

If the fire alarm went off it looks as if it would be freaking obvious what was going on.

Posted by: Steve at June 20, 2006 04:27 PM

Re. question about what deaf hotel guests do... some hotels have rooms that are specifically fitted out for the deaf - when the alarm goes off, the bed vibrates, lights flash, and a REALLY REALLY LOUD alarm sounds (it's not a "whoop whoop" sound - it's rather more like having a chainsaw cutting your head in half).

Posted by: Alex B at June 20, 2006 05:47 PM

At the Paris Hilton the alarm just goes, "That's Hoooooot!"

Posted by: The Stadium Motor Lodge Sisters at June 20, 2006 06:24 PM

The description of a sound is largely subjective. The danger is that, when the alarm does sound, someone may think "well, that sounds like 'merp merp', not 'whoop whoop.' It must not be the fire alarm."

Posted by: Pedant at June 20, 2006 07:42 PM

It's the 3 stooges curly alarm

whoop whoop

Posted by: mamma mamma at June 21, 2006 05:30 AM

Actually it's not really an alarm. When there is a fire a guy named Earl runs down the hallway yelling, "Whoop,Whoop,Whoop."

Posted by: Timm at June 21, 2006 05:42 AM

Must be the alarm for a disco inferno (Whoop, whoop is my disco call...)! (groans... Sorry, I had to.) =D

Posted by: ambrocked at June 21, 2006 04:29 PM



The formation or use of words such as "buzz" or "murmur" that imitate the sounds associated with the objects or actions they refer to.

Posted by: WiglyWorm at June 21, 2006 07:58 PM


Posted by: LAST at June 22, 2006 01:04 AM

Guess they had to make the choice between this and It's gettin' hot in herr'

Posted by: realsaddam at June 22, 2006 11:18 AM

it is a savory hotel? last I checked hotels did not taste good. maybe the food served, but not the hotel.

Posted by: chris at June 22, 2006 11:25 PM

It'd only broken if it doesn't sound like that. Not having heard it, it would be hard to judge how accurate a description it is. It may sound exactly like "whoop whoop" for all we know. Right?

Posted by: Alan at June 23, 2006 04:00 AM

Fire alarm at my last school sounded like: ERRT! ERRT! ERRT! (pause) ERRT! ERRT! ERRT!... My new school:BRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRING!

Posted by: Eric at June 24, 2006 12:58 AM

I install fire alarm systems. In the documentation they list the different messages the systme can play. And it does describe the sound as "whoop". Blame the manufacturers for this one!

Posted by: at June 24, 2006 03:24 PM

"...when activated."

What does the alarm sound like when not activated?

Posted by: interlard at July 9, 2006 01:44 PM

You all don't get it. The alarms don't SAY whoop whoop. They make a sound. Think of a police siren, but only the part where it's rising in pitch, then it pauses, then repeats. Go to

to see for yourself what this sounds like, and if you have any more questions, go to

. This is a voice-enabled system, or EVAC (Emergency Voice Alarm Communications). It will make that sound or sometimes a chime,buzzer, emulated bell or other sound, then a message (either recorded or live) will be broadcast over the speakers, dedicated for the fire alarm system. As for Eric, the school alarm that went ERRT! ERRT! ERRT! pause is known as the Code-3 Temporal pattern, consisting of ½-second alarm, ½-second pause, ½-second alarm, ½-second pause, ½-second alarm, then 1½-second pause, repeat. This is required for any evacuation signal as of 1998. And as for Alex, most alarms today have bright strobe lights on them or nearby(again, reference video) as visual backup for the alarms. This came about due to the ADA, Americans with Disabilities Act. A strobe must be at least 15 cd (candela - a unit of measuring the light's intensity at a ceartain point) at 10' directly in front of the strobe to meet ADA requirements, 110cd-177cd in any sleeping area. 15/75cd is the norm for ADA compliant strobe installs.

Posted by: FireAlarmFanatic at July 31, 2006 11:06 PM

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