When passing through a London Underground station, you might hear an announcement about Inspector Sands.
"Your attention please, could Inspector Sands please report to the control desk"
It turns out that "Inspector Sands" is a code word for an evacuation. The same code word is used throughout the Underground, and I have had this confirmed by a friend who works as a station controller.

According to spiregrain, Inspector Sands is used to give the staff a warning that a fire detector has been triggered. If two are triggered the proper siren sounds. If only one is triggered you get Sands, while someone goes to have a look. He can then sound the proper siren if there is a real fire.

The origins of the phrase seem to be from the theatre, where an announcement for Mr. Sands indicates to staff a fire, and Mr. Gravel indicates a bomb alert. London Underground use Inspector Sands for any type of evacuation. It seems that many organisations that need to deal with the public: hotels, stores, etc. adopt a similar policy of announcing a codeword to alert staff.

Is this a UK phenomenon, or do other countries have a different method of alerting staff? Please /msg me details and I will include them (I have no intention of making this a GTKY node).

Source:   A google search yielded the following discussion boards:

  • http://www.guardian.co.uk/notesandqueries/query/0,5753,-22390,00.html
  • http://www.b3ta.com/board/4/8/1/2/9/3

Code Adam is the code word used by Wal-Mart for a lost child. See heard at Wal-Mart.