Automatic alarm activation. Smoke detector, first floor hallway.
Even though it’s dinner time and our own dinner will be pushed back at least an hour now we’re loaded on the engine and out the door in less than a minute. The first due engine is out of service so our response time will give a small fire more chance to grow.
More often than not the alarm company calls to advise a resident on site reports a faulty alarm and we often cancel the truck company and Battalion Chief also assigned to the alarm. As the engine, we always continue until we get eyes on the detector. We get no such advisement.
On scene to the 3 story type 5 residential we have nothing showing and a person on the front steps, phone to her ear waving us down. Airpack on, axe in belt, lamp on shoulder and a pump can in hand I’m met by the person who tells us she can’t understand why the alarm won’t stop going off. We aren’t hearing a fire alarm, but a smoke detector shrieking it’s triple beeps from the building behind her. Some may take a deep breath and pack down, but I love a good chance for free exercise so I head for the sound.
And that’s when I see it.
From behind me I hear the occupant telling the officer, who suddenly sees my pace change, that “I’m no expert but that thing is broken…”
The house is charged with the light to moderate smoke of burnt food, the smoke detector faithfully discharging it’s duty and working perfectly.
The pan on the stove is…wait for it…still on and we turn it off and remove it from the house, now surrounded by curious neighbors coming out to see what is going on.
A quick side note, I love going into a building without hearing sirens, only to return a minute later to the truck on scene and the stick coming out of the bed. Those guys are fast.
As we open windows we note the occupants clear confusion with how a smoke detector functions almost as if she was never taught in school. Oh…
“But it wasn’t a fire, just oil…it’s only supposed to go off when there’s a fire” To say the Chief did a face palm would be great, but being the professional he is he took her under his arm and slowly walked back into the building. The last thing I heard him saying was:
“These things happen to people sometimes. Some more than others…”