False Alarm

I was at the office this Sunday catching up on some work when an unusual thing happened. I was sitting at my desk typing away at the keyboard when the 90 decibel fire klaxon suddenly went off. Going out into the common area of the building, I noticed several other sirens, buzzers, and klaxons going off as well as flashing red strobe lights. I noticed the cleaning staff trying push the handle of a fire alarm back up (which can’t be done without a key). I asked them what happened and they began jesturing at a feather duster that one of them was holding and then at the alarm panel (only one of them could speak any english). This is very odd. It was one of the red fire boxes with the white, “pull in case of fire” T-Handles. They are not easy to pull down even intentionally and somehow this guy managed to pull it using a feather duster!?

It took about 9 minutes for the Las Colinas fire department to arrive. It took only 8 minutes for the cleaning people to pack all their gear into their car and drive away, leaving myself and a couple of other innocent bystanders to explain things. The first problem the firemen noticed was that they couldn’t get in the building because the magnetic door locks, which are supposed to release automatically in case of emergency, didn’t. Fortunately, we were able to let them in before they did anything drastic. Next, we discovered that management didn’t have any procedure in place to turn off the alarm. We finally found someone with a key but they were over an hour away. I guess the firemen felt sorry for us having to listen to fire alarms for an hour – they offered to drive back to the fire station and look for an alarm key that might fit our alarm. They made it back in about 15 minutes and after trying a few different keys, got the thing shut off. Interestingly, I’m working late tonight and someone I didn’t recognize just emptied the trash cans in our office. It seems we may have an entirely new cleaning staff. Hmmm…

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