Thank You for Fire Watch in a Flood
I’m a “Key Holder” for two apartment buildings. This means if there is an emergency after business hours, my phone rings and I let in Police, Firemen or locked out tenants.
Last night, a water main broke in one of the buildings. It set the alarm panel off.
This complex alarm system is for fire, flood, earthquakes or even clown invasions. The same piercing sound is generated for all emergencies. It’s a little more musical for the clown invasions.
While I was on the phone with the alarm company, confused tenants poured into the snow, some holding babies and some without coats.
By the time I got my long coat on over my pajamas, and ran to the building, the fire trucks were out front.
While the alarm blared through the five story building, the fire chief and I yelled back and forth on the way to the control panel through the flooded area where the pipe had burst.
After turning off the alarm and closing a valve on the pipe, tenants were herded back inside.
The alarm could not be reset while the pipe was still damaged. This meant the building was without an alarm for fire or other emergencies until the pipe could be fixed the next morning. Also, the elevator does not run until the alarm is reset.
The fire chief explained there would need to be a 24 hour fire watch implemented until the next day. “It is the law.”
The fire watch consists of hourly rounds covering the building inside and out making sure there are no dangers.
I went home put on appropriate clothing, drank coffee and returned to do hourly rounds (each round took 40 minutes). I only had to do 1 round. I was rescued by the property manager and the maintenance man for the rest of the hourly rounds and I went home to go to bed but I already drank coffee, remember?
So I sat up for a long time trying to figure out why someone would invent such an all encompassing alarm system.
I sat up wondering about a lot of things.
How come I didn’t get one of those nice fire hats for the hour I was on fire watch?
What if there was a fire while the alarm was down? I definitely can’t make that shrieking noise. How would I wake up five floors of sleeping humans in a combustible atmosphere?
How come emergencies only happen when you’re wearing your ugliest pajamas?
Why did I drink so much coffee?
Why do fire trucks show up, no matter what kind of emergency happens?
Are people allowed to smoke on a fire watch?
Is that fire chief really as friendly as he seems?
How come more emergencies happen in the winter?
Is there any danger of a clown invasion in this neighborhood?