March 5, 2007: Newark Fire Drill Followup

I took some heat today from a regular reader of SGL for my flippant treatment of the Newark Fire Department in regards to the constant fire alarm testing at 1180 Raymond. So I will take this opportunity to state in a public forum that I apologize to the Newark Fire Department who, I am sure, in general are extremely dedicated to saving lives in the city and work very hard and tirelessly for the residents here. In my defense, unannounced fire alarms have been a pet peeve of mine since childhood and I have always considered any alarm set off with the intention of “testing” but without warning to be a prank. This particular instance was not one of these cases and we did have warning, as I did state, but the warning covered a very large period of time over which we had “no alarm.”

In response to the fire alarm situation I spoke to the Newark Fire Chief’s office today who directed me to the fire safety department of the Newark Fire Department. They were very friendly and helpful. The fire safety department agreed that having many “fire alarms” – announced or otherwise – in a populated building was not safe. They also agreed that having a system where we had to spend a day or two at a time without any alarm at all – effectively – was completely unsafe. And they were very unhappy to learn that our fire alarm instructions were that the alarm is always a test unless they make a special “this is NOT a test” announcement to go with it. And, of course, they weren’t thrilled that the PA system is only audible from the hallway and not from the apartment so what we end up with is a loud annoying sound that blots out any hope of hearing the PA which is the actual alarm system in our case.

So tomorrow the fire inspector for our region of the city is scheduled to pop into 1180 and find out what has been going on. This is encouraging that they have someone coming so quickly to look into the matter as they agreed that the entire situation is completely unsafe and that our building has effectively had its alarm disarmed at least in any meaningful way even under the best of circumstances. I will keep you up to date on the situation. The best outcome of all of this would be if a new process was adopted by the city to ensure that alarm tests were organized in a well informed way so that residents were confident as to what constitutes an alarm and what constitutes a test in a reliable way in any building in the city. There should never be a situation where a person wonders whether or not an alarm is real and whether to risk life and limb rushing out of a building into the snow in their pajamas. It is so sad that we have, so far, been able to safely assume that every alarm at 1180 over the last six months has been false. Had any one of those alarms been real many lives might have been lost simply because people were trained not to believe the alarms.

This morning started off as a bit of a panic. The valet called up to say that Dominica’s BMW’s battery was dead and that they could not start the car. What a way to start the day. In reality there aren’t many days when this would have worked out better since we didn’t know what we were going to do about Oreo anyway. So I emailed into the office and let everyone know that I would be working from home today. The valet manager took Min, Oreo and I over to the garage so that Dominica could get stuff that she needed out of the Beamer and so that we could get our roadside assistance information out of the car. Then she headed off to work and Oreo and I returned to our impromtu doggie daddy day.

Oreo is still feeling pretty rough today. He appears to have improved slightly but his foot is really hurting and he still doesn’t walk on it most of the time. I had a busy work day and couldn’t spend much time with him. He is definitely getting really bored with being stuck in the apartment with nothing to do all of the time. He has a lot of energy that he wants to get out.

I paid some bills today and, for the first time in a very long time, I managed to do some actual investing. We have been sitting on some money for a while just holding it in a saving account which is really foolish but we just didn’t have the time or energy to figure out what to do with it. It turns out that that wasn’t such a bad decision with the market having gotten inflated. The market came down dramatically over the last week and we appear to have bought in just in time to have caught the market in about the same condition that it was late last year. We are much relieved.

Dominica was able to go grocery shopping today so now we have a little bit of food in the house.  We had frozen pizza for dinner and spent the evening hanging out with Oreo and watching Monarch of the Glen.  Tomorrow I have to return to the office and we aren’t sure what we are going to do with Oreo.

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