Whoops -- I Selfishly Saved A Life This Morning (Semi-Long, Karmically Challenged)

5:00 a.m.


“Oh, you have got to be kidding me. That fricking fire alarm is going off again?”, I thought.

A month or two ago, the fire alarm system in a building a few doors down from us had picked up the rather wonderful habit of going off in the middle of the night. Just for a minute or two (just enough time to make sure sleep was completely interrupted), then stop. As soon as I’d start drifting back to sleep, it’d kick back on again. This would happen three or four times a night for a few nights, until I got fed up and called 911 to get the fire department out there. They came, tracked down the landlord, and made sure he fixed his crappy alarm system. Now here I was, hearing it again.

No, wait – this one sounded different. And it wasn’t stopping. Great…another one of these fricking places with a fire alarm that wakes up the whole damn neighborhood.

I put on my robe and plod outside. Huh…it’s the place right next door to me – a multi-family home, but as far as I’m aware there is only one unit rented, and I’m not even sure if she’s still there. The place was foreclosed on and is bank-owned, so there is every change she was told to get out.

Well, either way – I don’t see any fire or smell any smoke, but this alarm isn’t stopping. I’m sick of hearing it, and I’d like to try and get back to sleep. I now know from experience that the fire department will happily take out a malfunctioning fire alarm with extreme violence if needed, so one 911 call later and the firemen are on their way.

About 10 minutes later they pull up and start looking around. A local cop is already there, and informs the fire department that the house is vacant. Huh…so I guess that last renter is gone. The firemen are walking around, peering in windows and trying to find a way in. I know there is a realtor’s lockbox on the back door, so I tell them if they can find someone with access to the real estate network, they can probably get the key from the box.

After awhile, I go to the front of the house, where some other firemen got into the front foyer, but all the different apartment doors were still locked. I was standing in the foyer with one of the firemen, giving him as much of the house and tenant history as I knew, when one of the apartment doors flew open and a young woman came stumbling out. It would seem that last tenant was still living there after all, and her place was filled with smoke.

I made tracks back to my house – there actually was an emergency here, so best to leave this to the professionals. An ambulance came and took the young woman away. It turns out that the alarm is blaringly loud outside the house, but you can’t hear a damn thing from inside, so she had been blissfully sleeping while the oil heating system backed up and filled the house with smoke and carbon monoxide. She was awoken by us trying the door inside the foyer.

Needless to say, I didn’t get back to sleep. Two hours later, she was back home (although she can’t live there anymore, what with it being a poison-spewing deathtrap without an actual owner), and was thanking me profusely for waking her up before she died in her sleep. Kinda awkward to have someone thanking you for saving their life, when at the time all I wanted was for their damn alarm to turn off so I could get a little more shut-eye.

Ah well…I’m just glad some good came out of the usually annoying-as-hell fact that I’m a very light sleeper.

You da man!

Don’t think this is ever going to bump you-know-what out of the #1 spot on the list of things people think of when they see your username, but pretty frikkin’ cool nonetheless.

What I’m learned from this is it’s good to be a selfish, irritable crank. I think I’m doing all right. :slight_smile:

Wow, what a great dose of good karma just before Christmas! I know someone who’s getting less coal in his stocking than he just might have earned! Seriously, your neighbor is one lucky cookie. Good on ya!

Ayn Rand, is that you?

You scared me! That is exactly like the alarm sounded in our dorm. I am now in a state of trauma.

Well done!

How is it possible to hear a fire alarm outside a building but not inside? Shouldn’t it be inside the house? And where were all the smoke detectors in the house too?

I lived in an apartment building where the alarms seemed to be set to blare outside as well. I forget if they were in the halls, too, but they weren’t blasting inside of the apartments themselves. My husband and I woke up one night wondering what that sound was - well, he woke first because he sleeps more lightly, then he woke me - and then looking outside we realized there was an alarm going off and someone (probably from the ground floor near the exit) was running outside already. We saw it was the next building (built up against ours but with a firewall between), so we grabbed important stuff and moved the ferret cage near the exit, then went outside. Even though the apartment that caught on fire shared a wall with us, that wall never got hot on our side, and the construction was impressive at keeping it from spreading too far.

One of the reasons they make those alarms so goddamned annoying is so you CAN’T ignore them - thus you will call, even when half-awake, irritable, and cranky.

Alarm functioned as designed.

You are an accidental hero

Enjoy the karmic glow.

Good for you, Mr. Crankypants. Now, if being cranky would make me shed pounds and earn money…

This is a really neat story. I especially enjoyed your use of the word <SKRAWNK>.

Sounds like something a magical tree-dwelling creature would say. Skrawnk! Skrawnk! Or a sheep in distress, maybe…

It’s also what bluejays sound like. Lovely birds - awful “song.”

My neighbor just stopped by with a plate of “thank you” cookies. I now deem my actions “totally worth it”. :smiley:

You save 20 people’s lives, but they don’t call you “Hal the Hero”.

But have your cube-mate post under your name about loving sheep just ONCE…

<blinks innocently> You mean the way he burnt the curtains trying to kill a spider?

Enjoy your well-deserved cookies, Hal!