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<   No. 1487   2007-02-21   >

Comic #1487

1 Kyros: Surely you dwarves, being clever subterranean engineers, would have designed with contingencies in mind.
2 Kyros: How would you evacuate this hall in case of a large and dangerous fire, for example?
3 Dwalin: It's carven oot o' solid rock! We dinnae give nae thocht to fires! {translation: It's carved out of solid rock! We didn't give any thought to fires!}
4 Kyros: Well, that's me out of ideas.

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The supermarket where I buy my weekly groceries has a three-storey car park. There's a stairwell for people to get back down to street level after parking your car on one of the upper levels, and to get back up to your car after doing your grocery shopping. (There's also a ramp for the cars, of course, but it's not so safe walking up and down that, since it's fairly easy to get hit by a car if the driver isn't being extra careful.)

Normally, of course, after doing your shopping you are laden with both hands full of bags of groceries, sometimes quite heavy. It used to be that this was not a particular problem, because you'd walk into the bottom of the stairwell, climb up, and walk straight out on to the upper floor and to your car.

But a couple of years ago the local council, in its infinite wisdom, installed doors on each level of the stairwell. And they have automatic closers on them. So now, to climb back up to your car you have to struggle to open a stiff auto-closing door on the ground floor, with your hands full of heavy groceries, climb up the stairs, and then open a second door on the upper level to get out of the stairwell again.

Why have they put doors on the stairwell? Well, they are fire doors. So they're for our safety. And because they're fire doors, they have to have automatic closers on them. So you can't prop them open to make access to the stairwell easy for people laden with groceries. In fact, propping them open is illegal.

You're obviously waiting for the point of this story. Here it comes.

The entire car park structure is made of concrete.

Except for the doors, which are made of wood.

The only thing in the entire structure that is capable of burning is the fire doors.

How exactly, in any way whatsoever, do these doors make this building any safer? All they do is block access to the stairwell and, in the bizarre case that someone's car catches fire, make it slower and more difficult to escape.

Oh, and make it incredibly inconvenient for the thousands of people who park and buy groceries there every week.

Someone in my local council deserves a visit from Insanely Oveprowered Fireballs.

2016-11-16 Rerun commentary: In the years since this comic was originally published, I'm glad to ay that the offending car park has been demolished and replaced with a new development which includes a larger supermarket[1], a cafe, an Asian food place, a juice bar, and an Asian grocer, as well as a new car park with - blessed be - a stairwell with open doorways. So we no longer need to struggle to open heavy auto-closing doors while carrying bags of groceries.

[1] A good thing, since the supermarket in the old structure was fairly small and cramped compared to most supermarkets, which meant that their variety of products was not as great. The new one is pretty good, except that it's over two levels, connected by sloping moving walkways. For safety reasons, the supermarket trolleys have special things on their wheels which make them lock up when on the walkway, so anyone pushing a trolley has to stand still on the walkway and just... wait... and... wait... and... wait... until they reach the other floor. And since these block the walkway, even if you are only carrying a small basket with 3 or 4 items, you have to wait behind everyone else and can't get between the floors quickly. And they put all the frozen foods on the level which doesn't have the checkouts and doors. Which means if you just go in to buy a tub of ice cream, you can't dash straight to the checkouts. You have to wait behind a bunch of other people on the sloping walkways to get back to the other floor while your ice cream starts melting.

I don't think people who design supermarkets actually shop in supermarkets.

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