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Fire Alarm


Yesterday, as I sat before my computer, finishing a tweet and just affixing hash tags #, the internal fire alarm of the apartment building sounded. Nine in the morning. Sun-filled and bitterly cold day.

I immediately thought 'there is nothing really wrong'. This is a stupid reaction, particularly for someone who has already been in an apartment house fire. But that was my thought. I debated whether to finish my twitter post. A couple of #'s - what's the harm? But I do know how fast a fire can spread and I do know what it is like to nearly not escape. So, I went to my door. Yes, I should have put on winter garb and exited the building, but I did not.

Out in the corridor were a half dozen other tenants. One was in sleeping attire and another had outerwear on. No one knew of any fire. A joke was made that at least we now know the fire alarm works. It did indeed. No complaints there.

I imagine I was milling and talking for a couple of minutes before I thought that the fire department should be called. And, instead of assuming that someone had already done it, I went and did it myself. I called 911. "Which service do you need?" I said the internal fire alarm of an apartment building was going off. I was both asked my address, and was having that address confirmed, at the same time. I gave my name. I was asked to reconfirm my phone number three time (they never gave me time to give it). I said there was no smoke nor flame to be seen. I was advised to leave the building.

Instead, I traversed the three flights of the building. Went along the corridors smelling for smoke, looking for flame, touching the doors. I felt there was no need to knock. If people didn't hear the continuing alarm, they were not going to hear me. I went down to the parking garage for a fast look. Nothing amiss except for a freezing puddle and some dripping water. Having had presence of mind to put on winter boots, I then walked around the building, looking for smoke or flame. There was none. 

Very shortly after I was back with the milling tenants, the fire truck arrived. As the alarm kept blaring, equipment-laden firefighters made the rounds. Did anyone have keys to the furnace and electrical rooms? The landlord was called. Nowhere was there a hint of smoke or flame. Within five minutes the landlord arrived. About ten minutes later we milling tenants were told that there had been a water leak in the electrical room which triggered the fire alarm sensors.

Then it was eventually discovered that painters, the day before, who had been painting the laundry room, shoved the washers out of alignment. Their drain hoses did not go into the draining pipe. When a tenant did a laundry - using two washers - all of the water went on the floor and leaked down below. The non-fire was caused by water.

I returned to my apartment and my tweet.

It was: The 'Corporal Teather C.V.' and the 'Sandra Mary' are at berth, side-by-side in Halifax harbour. Will there be waves? #Halifax 

I added #harbour #fb and sent it.