Frikkin Fire Drills and False Alamrs

I am probably doomed to perish in a fire.  Gosh I certainly hope not but it definitely could be a possibility.  I have no idea how fast a fire moves or how long you can manage before the smoke overcomes you.  AND unfortunately, I have been in SOOOO Many dang frikkin fire drills and alarms that I have become inured to their importance.

Maybe 10 years ago or so, twice, (different hotels, different states, different cats, different times), I was in a hotel with my daughter’s cat and with my two cats..  Someone pulled the fire alarm when I was with my daughters cat and it was during the day so I was able to quickly grab him and stuff him in a carrier.  BUT on my way out the door, I also grabbed my computer and my purse.  Went outside and sat on the bench in front of the door until the fire department came and cleared the alarm.  The second time with cats, I was on the fourth floor and it was the middle of the night.  The cats were sleeping on the bed with me when someone pulled the alarm.  The noise is so loud and tumultuous and ear splitting plus a bright red light whirling in the room that the cats immediate dove for cover under the KING SIZED BED.   I was not leaving without my cats (although I know that one is supposed to do so but my cats are family!).  Took me probably 5 minutes to corral them and get them stuffed into a carrier and that involved throwing the mattress and springs onto the floor so I could reach them under the bed.  This alarm truly terrified me at the time because it was the middle of the night.  I do remember I called the front desk and they assured me they were looking into the matter but I had best vacate my room.  Again, I grabbed my computer and purse and trotted down the flights of stairs and shivered in the cold morning air because I had forgotten to put on a jacket.  At least I was sleeping in pajamas at the time.

Of course both of these were alarms and not drills but still, I didn’t get out as fast as I could, I took my time to get my cats and my most important possessions.  My bad.  One other fire alarm was in Singapore.  No cats at the time but we lived on the 33rd floor.  That is a LONG way down the stairs.  Probably took us 15 minutes or more as people were coming out on each floor to join the procession plus some flats had stored their bicycles and grills and such on the stairs.  They bad!   Plus my hubby wanted to stop on the floors where we had friends and made sure they were not in their apartments but we figured they were ahead of us on the stairs.  This is the ONLY time there was actually a reason for the alarm being pulled and it was some of our friends where the wife had caught a skillet on fire and there was a lot of smoke in their apartment but her husband had put out the small stove fire before the alarm was pulled.  She ran and pulled the alarm because she was a nutter.

And one time in the Science Museum in London.  We’re on the top floor when there is a fire alarm.  This was mid winter when it was actually quite cold.  By the time we reached the ground floor, personnel was stationed at all stairs and they would not let anyone retrieve their coats so I’m outside in 2 degree C weather, with a wind, and no coat.  AND they had to wait for the fire brigade to come and clear the alarm before we could go back inside to get our coats.   I no longer check my coat when I go somewhere unless it is just a jacket that I could do without for an hour or so.

In a very crowded theatre watching We Will Rock You.  In the middle of a song, the performers stopped singing and left the stage.  OMG.  Then the “Safety Curtain” descends and we had never seen that happen before.  No one in the audience knew what was happening so everyone just sat there for maybe 2 or 3 minutes.  There was no smoke or heat or alarms.  Finally staff opened all the exit doors and started shouting for people to leave the theatre.  A disgruntled employee had pulled an alarm backstage but we never heard it at all.  So out into the cold (with my coat this time) and wait for the fire brigade again to come and clear the theatre and 45 minutes later, we get back in to see the rest of the show.

There have been a couple of other hotels where the alarms have been pulled and I have exited at my leisure, making sure I have my important stuff.  And there have been drills, so many drills.  Work place drills, hotel drills, restaurant drills, gym drills, store drills and others.  Usually there is a sign or an employee will mention that a drill is being held at such and such a time and please cooperate and exit as quickly as possible.   Never any smoke, never any heat, never any problem with calmly getting up and walking out with my stuff.  apparently my stuff is quite important to me!

Yesterday I was in an unannounced drill and it was only a partial drill at that!  I was at the gym and you might recall that I hate going to the gym.  Any excuse not to go.  But I was there and walking fast on the treadmill and watching Chuck on my iPod.  I think I heard something going off but I wasn’t paying any attention as I was focused on Chuck and his cornucopia of problems with being a secret computer nerd spy.   Suddenly a lady jumps up on the treadmill next to me and taps me which was quite startling but she shouts “Fire Alarm”.  I took out my earplugs and yep, it was going off quite loudly.  I think I didn’t pay any attention to it because the music is usually way too loud so I must turn up my iPod as well.  I “emergency stopped” the treadmill, gathered my iPod and walked out.  People are leaving the gym and walking down the stairs but I detoured into the ladies locker room and got my purse and my coat and my keys.  Yep, stuff is definitely important to me.  But no smoke, no fire, no shouting, no running.  Some poor ladies are in the shower, some are half dressed, some are totally nude, and they are not really hurrying so I meandered out as well and when I got to the front of the hotel where my gym is located, it appeared that the only people involved in the drill were the people at the gym and the people at Starbucks and the pub.  There wasn’t a single person out there who I would have counted as a hotel guest or hotel staff.  No housekeepers, who have a distinctive uniform or front desk staff who also have a distinctive uniform.   Everyone was dressed in gym attire or swimsuits and surely, at the time of day that this happened, one would have expected to get some executives over for lunch in their suits, or at least one or two hotels guests dressed nicer than sweaty T-shirts and trainers.   And it was a drill because no fire brigade showed up to check the alarm.  Once outside, it was less than 3 minutes before we were allowed back inside.  The Starbucks staff appeared to be the only employees outside with the gym attendees.    The end run of this drill was that I went back in to get my gym bag and then went home to do my errands. Didn’t even want to take a shower there in case they figured we hadn’t responded quickly enough and wanted to do it again.

So I have become lackadaisical with fire alarms and fire drills.  No experience with the real thing – thank goodness – but then that gives me no frame of reference for how much time I really do have to get out.   I am probably doomed.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s