Fire alarm

12 10 2009

Last night, the fire alarm went off in my building at about 1:00 or so. I’m never sure what to do in these situations – should I wait in my apartment for instructions? Take the stairs as quickly as possible? Ignore it and carry on with what I was doing?

When I first moved into the building, one of the superintendents told me that residents should wait to be notified what to do: if there was a real fire, fire or smoke could be spreading up one of the stairs, so trying to get out of the building might be the wrong move. On the other hand, the instructions posted in each hallway instruct residents to leave as quickly as possible. My own opinion is that it would take a while for the people in charge to figure out exactly what has gone wrong. If there is a real fire, I figure it’s better to get outside right away before things get worse.

However, when it’s the middle of the night and it’s cold out, “right away”, for me, meant “after I put clothes on over my pajamas, put on my shoes, and grabbed my winter coat, my wallet and my keys”. So I would probably be doomed if there was a flash fire. Hopefully – because the building isn’t made of wood – a flash fire is a very unlikely occurrence.

As usual when there is a fire alarm, only about a couple of dozen people actually went out of the building. Most of the building’s residents are used to the fire alarm going off regularly, and automatically assume that it’s a false alarm (as this one was). While nobody was happy to hear the alarm go off, one guy living on the south side was especially unhappy. When I made it outside, I heard him opening his balcony door and yelling “Fuck! Fucking false alarm! Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!”, and then hitting something very hard in frustration. I wonder what he was doing when the alarm interrupted him.

As it turned out, the interruption actually seemed to readjust my sleep cycle – I’ve been having problems with insomnia lately, but I managed to sleep well last night. Hurray.

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