Rethinking Safety Inspection Audio Notices

December 2019

The frequency of safety inspections in a residential condo building are intended to ensure systems continue to function as expected and required.  Less necessary are the frequency and type of audio announcements communities regularly subject residents to at the time of these inspections.

These audio announcements are more irritating than necessary.  They fail to acknowledge residential living realities in a high-rise building.  Their frequency is such that many residents learn to ignore them while some seek a way to turn them off.  It comes as no surprise when some residents (illegally) disconnect speaker wires to eliminate what many feel is an unnecessary and unwarranted intrusion.

Tests typically begin with a long tone to obtain resident attention followed by an unintelligible announcement repeated multiple times.  A similar process signifies the end of a test.  These announcements disturb residents in the building including those working at home and night workers sleeping during the day.  Infants and pets cower when these disembodied sounds and voices commence.

No purpose is served by repeating unintelligible audio messages that residents ignore.

Conducting a safety test should not require disturbing every resident in the building and disrupting their activities.  Fewer audio messages would help ensure residents pay more attention to them.  Clearer voices would allow audio messages to be understood.

There are alternatives to audio messages not of an emergency nature that can be more effective and less disruptive.