Saturday, February 26, 2005

False Alarm at the Whitcher House

I just spent the last 30+ minutes standing outside in the freezing cold, waiting for what seemed like the entire Moline fire department to give the all clear for our building. Ryan and I were sitting quietly at the table, enjoying our morning breakfast. (Translation, to make it a better story: "There we were, minding our own business...") Suddenly, the obnoxiously loud buzzing of the building fire alarm pierced the quiet morning. After sticking my head in the hallway to make sure there was no smoke, I woke Allison and we all got dressed to wait outside. On the way, I called heard someone else calling 911, so I called our maintenance people, on the assumption that this would be a false alarm. Of course, no one answered, even at the 'emergency' cell phone number.

By the time we got outside, the first fire trucks were already outside, with more pulling in. By the time it was said and done, we had at least 4 firetrucks, including the big ladder truck, and 2 ambulances. It's good to know the Moline Fire Department is so quick to respond, and takes their job seriously.

It seemed, as we all stood outside, that the consensus among the neighbors was that this was a false alarm. At first, questions were asked about the kids, who was in the hallway, who might have pulled the alarm, but then another theory came out: The fire alarm switches in this building have been in poor repair for years. Some are literally taped up with electrical tape because the switches are broken. Many of us had hoped for the system to be repaired when Property Consulting Group took over the property maintenance from Dr. Alan Kendall (Link to QC Times Archives), but PCG seems to have ignored the fire system disrepair for the last year as well. Within minutes, everyone agreed this was likely the reason we were all roused from our warm homes on this early Saturday morning.

After about 15 minutes of idle chit-chat with our neighbors, the brisk morning air started to get to the kids. One of the firemen noticed, and was nice enough to invite all of the young ones into the firetruck to wait. Ryan got to stand in the back seat area of one of the big trucks, look around, and even roll up the power window! When the firemen (and women) came out and said it was okay to go back inside, one of them helped the kids one by one down from the fire truck. Ryan was quick to say "It was pretty fun!" Later, he told us about how he and the other kids were finding treasure inside the truck, including walkie-talkie holders, a fireman's cell phone, and the fireman's coffee! The lone fireman sitting in the driver's seat was "awesome", he talked to the kids, and was apparently very nice.

As I sit here writing, the fire alarm is still going off, and to my knowledge no one has been able to get ahold of maintenance to silence it. I'll be off to work soon anyway, hopefully by the time I get back someone will have figured out how to shut the blasted thing off. So much for a nice quiet morning for my first day of 1/2 shifts on Saturday, eh?

EDITED: February 26th, 2005 at 10:30am:
Finally, the alarm is off, and the management is here to find out what happened.