Fire Alarms - I Could Write A Novel!

I honestly could write a book about my experiences – I’ve had that many of them.  But I’ll try and summarise some of the more prominent experiences I’ve had with fire alarms.  For background, I’ll say that I am registered blind and also have what is known in the trade as noise defensiveness (I prefer to call it noise intolerance).  So not only is loud noise like a fire alarm disorientating because it takes away the ability to hear your surroundings, but it also makes my ears hurt and gives me the absolute urge to get away from the place where the alarm is going off – perhaps a good thing in some ways but it would be nice if I didn’t continue hearing the alarm for days afterwards!
 
OK, so here are some of my experiences.  Most of my earlier ones stem from attending a specialist primary school for the visually impaired.  I used to stay there 2 nights a week.
 
One of the worst experiences I can recall is when the fire alarm was faulty.  It went off 3 times in one night – once when I was having supper, once just after I’d got out the bath and once while I was in bed just falling asleep.  I knew that it was going to go off a third time and had my foot poking out of bed ready to get moving – I was right!  Sixth sense?  We had a claxon type alarm and it was really shrill and loud.  They had to turn the alarm off for the night and it was tested on numerous occasions afterwards, and eventually replaced. 
 
I was coming back into the entrance hall at school once and was directed by a member of staff around a ladder which a fire general was on testing the school fire alarm.  Just as I went past he tested it, and I not only got deafened by the alarm but also dazzled by a big yellow flash of light coming from a nearby alarm sounder.  Ouch!
 
One of the lighter experiences I had was a fire practice that they had pretty much told us about.  In assembly they said the day before that we would have a fire practice the next day between 12 and 2pm.  I was sat in my lesson ready and expectant, so that when it did go off I was the first to stand up and make my exit.  The teacher couldn’t seem to get the fire door open for a while though so that delayed us getting out, but otherwise that was one of my better experiences.  I love it when I can somehow miss a drill completely – I was on a block walk once while assembly was going on (don’t worry, it was authorised) and got back to find out they had just had a fire drill in the middle of assembly.  I smiled, knowing I had missed it and being rather happy at the fact!
 
Fast forwarding through secondary school, where the alarm hardly went off, I land at a specialist College doing my A levels.  The alarm went off at various times of the day and night, but not that often luckily.  Only a few experiences stick out here.
 
I had a toaster that I brought in from home because the college one was not very good.  I left it in our unit (like a flat with 5 or 6 bedrooms, kitchen, lounge area and everything).  I said people could use the toaster as long as they didn’t do anything silly with it or whatever.  One of the students in my unit decided to cook some salmon in a toaster bag – which you can do quite easily – but being totally blind and not checking the toaster bag first used it even though it had a hole in the bottom.  The oil from the salmon leaked out into the toaster and, yes, the fire alarm was triggered.  We all went out, the staff told us it was our unit’s toaster and I was able to tell them once I saw which one it was that that toaster was mine.  They took it away to be tested by the caretaker and it blew up during the test!  Bang went the toaster.  Lol.
 
There was another occasion when, I confess, it was me that caused the alarm to go off.  Myself and a friend were cooking sausages for dinner.  I hadn’t smelt they were burning, neither had anyone else sitting in the lounge with us, and the next thing we know the fire bell was going off.  We later heard it was my sausages that caused it.  Cremated sausages for dinner anyone?
 
And the last experience from my College days.  I woke up one Friday morning and for some reason knew there was going to be a fire practice that day.  I told various friends, some of whom believed me and others who didn’t.  Lo and behold, at about 11am that morning, whilst I was sitting in the Learning Resource Centre which had various computers and the college library, the alarm went off.  I said “I knew it!” and grabbed the arm of a fellow student who looked to be getting a bit disorientated.  We left the building and got to the fire assembly point at the front in good time.  I was right, it was a practice.
 
OK so I won’t bore you with much more of this drivel, but just to say that when I went to University there was more to come.  One experience that stands out for me was someone setting off the alarm because they were waving a cannabis joint (lit) under the alarm sensor in their room, insisting that it wouldn’t set the alarm off.  They soon learned their lesson.
 
We were told we would have a fire practice in the early hours of the morning (before 8am) sometime in our first 2 weeks in University accommodation.  My anxious body clock woke me up at 6am every day until finally, at 7.30am; it went off during the third week.  I was first out the building and proud of my body clock for getting me there.
 
The first time I heard the fire alarm in my Uni accommodation, I thought it was the intercom in my room!  I only twigged when it carried on and didn’t vary in tone or anything.  Then I suddenly said to myself “Ah, fire alarm!” and dashed out the building.  Don’t ask me why I thought it was my intercom, I don’t know!
 
I think that’ll do for now.  Maybe as more come to me I’ll post them here, but for now, let’s not have nightmares!
AdviceLady AdviceLady
22-25, F
Aug 6, 2010