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False alarm

There are many reasons to look forward to escaping from our semi-subterranean hidey-hole and taking up residence again on our newly renovated main floor. This recent experience is just one more such to add to the list.

Our basement does have a kitchen – of sorts! It is quite small and the equipment is – er – ‘old’ to put it mildly. Like some other old things in the house it does not always function as efficiently as once it did – many, many years ago when it was still full of life and charged with the vigour of youth…

Ahem! – sorry about that!

Anyway… a couple of days ago I was roasting some vegetables in the antique oven downstairs. The temperature therein always seems on the low side so I had pushed it up a notch. Unfortunately when the cooking time was up and I opened the oven door a billow of smoke was released into the room – and into the ceiling-mounted smoke detector.

Now – when we purchased the house back in 2015 we inherited with it an alarm system. An eye-watering cancellation fee persuaded us that we should stick with it. The service – which is I believe monitored from somewhere in northern America – not only provides break-in sensors on doors and windows and motion sensors throughout, but also fire and smoke alarms on each floor. When an alarm is triggered a disembodied voice hails one through the console outside the master bedroom, endeavouring to establish whether or not this be a genuine incident.

On this occasion the alarm sounded and I had to rush upstairs to converse with the distant operative. I cancelled the alarm on the console and informed the enquirer that it was a false alarm. I was obliged to give details such as my first and last names and to quote the secret password – to prove that I was not in fact an arsonist who had broken into the house. All this time the smoke was wafting around downstairs.

As the conversation finished the alarm was again triggered. I cancelled it once more and assumed that the distant overseer would recognise that this was in fact the same incident. I went back downstairs. As I was dealing with the oven I heard a call coming in on my cell phone in an adjacent room. I did not get to it before the caller rang off but was informed that a voicemail had been left. It was from the alarm company enquiring about the second alarm. I called them back at once and patiently talked the lady at the far end through the sequence of events. After a couple of minutes of conversation she asked me if I wanted them to cancel the call to the fire brigade. “Yes!” – I exclaimed urgently, somewhat perplexed that it had taken her this long to ask.

At that moment the doorbell rang. It was a fireman! Outside in the road I could see an appliance and a couple of other fire service vehicles – lights a-flashing. I patiently and apologetically explained that there had been a false alarm and that I had cancelled it and spoken to the alarm service. Apparently they had tried to reach me over the console again after the alarm went off for the second time but I was clearly already flapping about downstairs by that point.

I suppose that I should be grateful that we are this well covered – particularly given that this is a wooden framed building – but I can’t help feeling that a little common sense on this occasion would have saved a fair bit of panic on all sides.

Hey ho!

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