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Alarm drama

One of the oh so fun things I missed blogging about this summer was our freaking fire alarm. If you follow me on twitter you know that our fire alarm has been on the fritz most of the summer. It’s been incredibly frustrating. It started at the end of June.

The first time was around midnight. I was still up watching Netflix and Joel had dozed off on the couch. When the alarm went off I sprang into action, as any good flight attendant would. I quickly did a mental assessment of the most important things in our life and grabbed the laptop, DSLR camera and of course Phoebe and the bird. Joel must have really been tired because in the seven seconds it took me to scoop up the laptop and camera he still hadn’t stirred.

I kind of yelled, “Joel, the fire alarm is going off, get up and grab the dog.” I don’t think it was unreasonable for me to yell at this point since the fire alarm is loud and he hadn’t so much as twitched.

Joel (my hero) jumped off the couch and turned off the tv… because obviously that was what was making that awful noise and disturbing his sleep.

“Joel, it’s the fire alarm. We need to go outside, grab the dog.”

He groggily stumbled over towards the door and grabbed… not the keys, not the dog’s leash, not his wallet… nope, he grabbed….

His sunglasses.

And proceeded to put them on.

Remember, it’s about midnight. Not too many solar flares going on in this part of the world at that time.

I put down the laptop and grabbed the leash, put it on the dog and handed it to Joel. I reminded him that it was midnight and sunglasses were probably not needed. I doubted the fire was going to be that bright.

He finally snapped out of it and we made our way out of the building and waited outside until the fire department came and gave us the all clear.

Poor dude doesn’t wake up quickly, especially when he’s really tired.

The fire department sent three trucks and an ambulance. I think just about everyone in our building (and two adjoining buildings) came out for it. There was one lady who kept asking if anyone knew if it was a real fire because if it was she needed to go back in for her cat. Obviously none of us knew but I hope she got a travel case for it after that, just in case.

That was the first time.

It went off no less than fourteen times over the course of two months.

Just think about that.

By the end almost no one came outside. The fire department eventually only sent one lonely little fire truck and two firefighters. Even I told Joel to call me if it was a real fire. He went out every time and waited. He heard the firefighters voice how sick they were of our place. Greaaaaaat. Just what you want to hear from the people who will potentially have your life in their hands.

After about a million frustrated calls to management and more than three months they finally replaced the alarm board in our buildings today. A couple guys came into the apartment and replaced something about the smoke detector. I learned that the whole building alarm doesn’t just sound for smoke in one apartment. Smoke will only set off the individual smoke detector. It also has a heat detector that has to get hot enough before it sets off the whole building alarm. Kind of makes sense but it’s also a little scary to think how bad a fire would have to be to make it hot enough for our alarm to go off.

He also told me a story of an old apartment building that had no working alarm at all. Management changed and they had these guys in on a Thursday to fix the alarm. That following Sunday the whole place burned to the ground. Everyone got out except the guy whose cooking started the fire. The only call the fire department got was the building alarm, no 911 calls at all. If the building alarm hadn’t been functional everyone probably would have died because it was at 2am.


It makes me so glad that the building alarm is fixed. The fire department got so frustrated with the false alarms that they turned it off completely. Our smoke detectors still worked but the fire department would only have been called if someone actually dialed 911.

I’m hoping this is the end of our alarm drama. You better believe that next time the alarm goes off I won’t be pulling my pillow over my head and waiting for Joel to call me if it’s real. Their stories were enough for me to realize the inconvenience of standing outside for 10 minutes for a false alarm far outweighs the consequences if I ignore it and it’s actually real.

But let’s hope we don’t have to deal with any fire alarms anymore, false or not because having to put on a bra and shoes at 3am is just plain annoying.


I did not move to California


Feeding my soul


  1. strawbrykiwi

    Scary! But a good reminder that even the annoying things are worth taking seriously to prevent tragedy.

  2. Woah! How irritating! Our fire alarms were beeping a couple weeks ago, we replaced the batteries and they seem good to go. My main fear with them is that they are strictly battery powered….even bacon doesn't set them off :S

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