Reflection on the fire alarm – by Judith Stevens (Jess’ Facebook Fave post of the week)

Two of my favorite women, sisters Judith and Robin Stevens, write some pretty funny posts on their FB pages.  I saw this one reflecting on their recent experience with a fire alarm in their building and thought it was too funny not to share!
So we’re sitting here minding our own business (I’m sorta sleepy in fact) when a truly obnoxious and loud alarm starts blaring. Robin Stevens, after looking out the peephole says, “that’s the fire alarm,” rather matter-of-factly. Apparently when the alarm sounds, a strobe light also starts flashing and so it was pretty obvious visually, as well as aurally, what was happening.
So I get up to follow her to the door and she proceeds to open it and say “I smell smoke”. I looked out the door also and saw that the steel fire doors had closed. They are normally held open by electric magnets which release when the electricity goes off or (now obviously but not seen previously) the alarm is pulled. I smelled something funky also, though I will point out that allergies make my testimony unreliable. At that point my adrenal glands figuratively said, “Release the hounds!” Since we were in our nighties, we both went to get pants on. Well I went to dress enough to brave the freaking cold night air, Robin dressed completely including undergarments of a supportive nature. Please vote who you think will survive and ACTUAL fire at the end of this story.
I called to Robin to hurry up because I’ve seen the documentaries about how fast a fire can spread and I didn’t want to get caught with the stairways blocked. While waiting I shoved my kindles, my ipad, my iphone, and my prescription medicines into my purse. No chargers (note to self, keep an emergency kit of chargers ready at all times in future). We then proceeded down the stairs and out the front door, where in a building with 16 apartments, we were the only people who had exited the building. Hmmm. Reassuringly, a few moments later the Military Chaplain and his wife came out to the foyer as well, so now there were four of us. They also said they had called the fire department.
I walked around the building to see if I could see smoke, and as I rounded the end of the building I saw a fox! Or a coyote! Really, I’m not a zoologist, but it was dog-like (but definitely not a dog!) creature with a fluffy tail. It looked at me for a while and then crossed the road and went into the woods. At this point I heard an alarm sounding from the parking garage under our building. BTW, still no firetruck. Then a guy walked up from the parking garage and said that a water pipe had broken (he heard the sound and went to investigate) and was spraying water on an exit sign which caused an electrical short or something. More people started arriving from where they had apparently been dining out (I deduced this from the Bonefish Grill carryout bag they had). Then our ‘across the hall neighbors’ who live in Saba Modjarrad‘s old apartment came out and I felt bad they were still in the building and asked them if I should have knocked on their door to get them to leave. (I would have thought the fire alarm itself was enough but…). Now that I look back, they never really answered. Hmm.
After that the fire engine with NO sirens finally showed up (like it wasn’t an EMERGENCY). Can I just say that one time I got stuck in the elevator and I used the emergency phone to call for help – it actually called 911, which I thought was a bit of an over-reaction at the time but it autodialed, so what could I do? The elevator fixed itself and opened up while I was still on the phone so I told them never mind but the firetruck came anyway before I got my door unlocked (editorial note: my door is like 7 short woman steps from the elevator). Now we may have a FIRE and it takes like 10 minutes for them to show up. What’s that all about? Then I noticed it was the Liberty Road Firehouse, not the closer Owings MIlls Firehouse. Delay explained. So then there were firemen, tripping all through the building, not speaking to us. Well they did talk to the guy who investigated the pipe in the garage, but that was it! People began to disperse since there didn’t seem to be a problem anymore. Robin started up the stairs,  I took the elevator (my mom didn’t raise an idiot).
Thus ended the adrenal portion of my evening.