Fire alarm

Published February 4, 2005

The fire alarms went off at work today, but stopped after about five seconds. Everyone stopped what they were doing and looked at each other.

An authoritative voice boomed, “Everybody out, please, that was the fire alarm.”

Nobody moved. We weren’t questioning the authority, we just didn’t know whether it truly was a fire drill or not. It didn’t sound again and someone trotted downstairs to ask reception what was going on.

Everyone relaxed and started chatting about their plans for the weekend until the tannoy crackled.

“This is a staff announcement. There is a small problem with the fire alarms, but we’re looking into it. Thank you.”

Everyone laughed it off and said thank goodness we didn’t have to go outside because it was cold out there today, and why didn’t companies have the courtesy to have fire drills in the summer?

The atmosphere was very calm and peaceful and I didn’t want to break it, but one thought kept crossing my mind. What if there was a real fire now? We would all ignore it and just carry on working. We’d think the fire alarms were just being tested and not bother to move.

Which is actually what we all did anyway. The fire alarm sounded and we all just looked at each other like ‘What now? Why bother?’ But it’s important. Alarms are there for a reason, we shouldn’t ignore them and not want to flee the building just because it’s a bit chilly outside. Do people have no sense of survival anymore?

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