Where’s the fire?

“And if self-preservation is an instinct you possess, you’d better fucking do it and do it quick.” – Winston Wolf, Pulp Fiction

The fire alarm went off today, and my first instinct was to leave the building. As children it’s what we’re conditioned to do. Fire drills are conducted in school, and whenever the fire alarm went off I was happy, because it meant I didn’t have to sit in the classroom. Yeah, 999 times out of 1000 it’s a false alarm, but do you want to be stuck in the building the one time it’s really on fire?

Evidently this isn’t something that registers with everyone. As I left the building, people were entering it despite the clearly audible alarm. Someone was trying to talk on their cell phone while remaining in the building, plugging their opposite ear with their finger. People were still running on the treadmills. What the hell?

When I was working at I-66, Inc., I supported over ten buildings around the area. Whenever we’d hear that a fire alarm was going off, without fail a handful of people would call and ask if they should exit the building. Nevermind that it’s nearly if not completely impossible to sit at your desk and do work while the shrill sound of the fire alarm pulsates, it’s a fucking fire alarm. You leave first, and then ask questions.

In college the fire alarm used to go off all the time. Dorms were segregated by gender and there was no “coed visitation” freshman year, so people would sneak others up to their rooms at night and pull the fire alarms in the wee hours of the morning so everyone would have to leave, and their illicit cargo could mingle in with the rest of the evacuating people and escape without being noticed. We’d see women mixing in all the time and know what was going on immediately. Eventually we grew tired (both literally and figuratively) of getting up at 2 in the morning to leave the building because someone else got laid, so we’d wait in our rooms and only leave if and when we heard the sounds of the fire trucks, since being caught by the firemen in your room was a very bad thing. Well, one night, at about 1am, a few of us were in my room watching tv. My roommate had gone to another friend’s room to… bring some stuff back… The fire alarm goes off. Figuring it was just another booty call ending, we stayed in the room waiting to hear the fire trucks. Instead, we got the door to the room flying open and my roommate and friend at the door saying “it’s a real fire!”

It ended up being a fire inside a trash can, but they saw and smelled the smoke and figured it was probably a good idea to hightail it out of there. Lesson learned. Fire alarm? Exit the building. Leave first, because you might not get to ask questions later.

Where's the fire?

3 Responses

  1. i always loved fire alarms, because they got me out of school. Unless it was freezing cold outside and snowy…in that case they are not cool at all.

  2. Phil and Hammer are gearing up for Blog War III. There is always fire when those two are around.

  3. I used to ignore fire alarms, too, until that time I was in temp housing in Rosslyn. The alarm went off, I fell back asleep, my now-ex pokes his head out the door — and we discover our neighbor’s apartment is completely on fire. Like, smoke all the way down the hall and very little oxygen. Pretty scary.

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