False Alarm Again Again

Again, the fire alarm went off. There was much milling in the hallways, and I stuck my head out the door to ask one of my neighbors, “Is this another false alarm?”

“There’s smoke in the stairwell, coming from the top floor,” she said, hurriedly heading downstairs.

I called 911, informed the local Fire Department — right across the road, fortunately — of the situation, and accompanied other neighbors down the elevator to the bottom floor, where three firetrucks had already dispensed their cargo of fire marshals in full gear. Then, acting on some inexplicably stupid sense of responsibility, I got back in the elevator and rode it all the way up to the top floor to see what was going on.

Firemen were milling about there, going from door to door, asking if there was any fire. There was no smell of smoke. I approached them, told them I’d made the call, and what I’d been told about the smoke smell — and received some rather stern, annoyed looks.

As expected, it was yet another false alarm. The smoke that had been smelled in the stairwell had merely been a thin wisp, and the firemen had found nothing. Heading back down, we — I and the firemen — concluded that some idiot had likely been smoking in the stairwell and set off the smoke detectors. Whoever that was, he got most of the building evacuated out onto a cold, rainy sidewalk. And now the local fire station is miffed at me, Mr. Trigger Happy Emergency Caller. That’s the last time I call 911 for a fire alarm in this apartment building.