One of Those Nights

OK, so Randy is up to his 8th night away from home. So far, it’s been a rather uneventful week or so. I’ve done some cleaning, I’ve done some shopping, I’ve had friends over for dinner and games. All in all, it’s been a rather low key spell of alone time.

Until last night.

Sometime after 9PM or so all of the fire alarms started going off. Now, our house is 4 floors. It’s also modern construction so the alarms are all hard-wired together. If one goes off, they all go off. So, my first instinct was to put on some pants and run through the house to see if there was smoke or fire (since I couldn’t tell where the source was because all alarms were going off).

By the time I’d finished scouring the house (we must have at least 8 or 9 fire alarms) the ringing had stopped.

Hmm…curious. I figured maybe all 5 townhouses  in our row were hardwired and perhaps somebody screwed up dinner or something.

I returned to the comfort of my sofa and the DVR to continue wasting my brain. But nearly two hours later they all started going off again. I followed the same routine of running up and down the stairs only to find no signs of smoke or fire.  UGH.

Knowing that even hard-wired alarm systems use battery back-up, I thought that maybe all of this commotion was caused because a battery in one unit was dying (though, shouldn’t simple technology exist that would limit the alarm sound to just the one alarm that’s defective, instead of sounding all of them, thus making it damn near impossible to find the source?)

Anyway, starting on the second floor I began to pull fire alarms down. Nothing. The alarms all continued sounding. At this point, it had been 10 minutes and it was after 11PM. I feared it was going to start pissing off our neighbors so I decided to take advantage of the reason I pay such high property taxes: I dialed 9-1-1. They said they’d be right over. To escape the noise I went outside and waited by the gazebo in the courtyard.

Alas, 5 minutes later a fire truck arrived (ugh…embarrassing). I explained to the fireman that all of the alarms were going off but there was no fire and no smoke. I said I’d begun pulling alarms down but that wasn’t solving it either. He said it could be defective alarms or dust, then asked if we’d recently done work.

Well, as a matter of fact, yes. We recently moved in, so we’ve painted, we’ve sawed shelves, swept up spackle dust, etc… swept out the garage. The said that some of the alarms could possibly have dust. But then he decided to check out the fire alarm in the first floor foyer.

And the ringing stopped.

I was moritfied. Doesn’t it figure that the one defective alarm was the first one he touched? Couldn’t it have been the fourth floor office alarm so he could have at least made it worth his while?

Anyway, that was my Monday night.  I do feel like an idiot, I must admit. But after pulling some batteries out, it still wasn’t stopping. And then I started fearing that if the system senses that alarms aren’t engaged, it might just keep going off until they are engaged properly (kind of like the way some car seatbelt warnings go off until you put it on). After 10 minutes of that obnoxious noise I feared I was just making matters worse. Despite knowing that there was no fire, that irritating and piercing noise creates just a sense of fear and anxiety that leaves you uncomfortable. I suppose that’s their whole purpose.

Note to self: follow the fire department’s advice and replace fire alarm batteries every year at daylight savings time.


  1. Comment by Randy on November 19, 2009 6:39 pm

    YOu need to post more often!

  2. Comment by Jeffrey on November 20, 2009 7:48 pm

    (singing) Hold tight, wait ’till the party’s over. Hold tight, we’re in for nasty weather,
    There has got to be a way-
    Burnin’ down the house.. … . . .

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