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Ready to Move

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Once again the fire alarm went off, this time wresting me from the shower as I was getting ready for work. And once again a false alarm. This time it was painters in the lobby setting off the particle sensor while sanding. Even the only marginally compitent contractors doing the restorations after fire had the sense to cover the particle sensors when sanding and painting (unlike the plumbers who set the alarms off repeatedly while cutting, welding and soldering pipe).

Given that prior to my morning shower and my second cup of coffee civility requires a little extra effort, I didn't do a whole lot to hide my displeasure. I did, at least, avoid the use of explitives.

I've had the building I live in burn substantially three times now. That's not counting incidents like when a car caught fire in the underground parkade of a concrete building I used to live in, dumpster fires, minor kitchen accidents (inuding my own stove going up in flames à la "The Sims" once - that was fun - the previous tenant had spilled a great deal of grease into the space under the burners). In all three of the significant fires I somehow managed to come out with my things unscathed.

The first one was when I was still in high-school, living with my mother. In that one the fire was on the other side of the firewall from us in a different wing of the building. My mother, who has lived through things like V-bombs falling on her neighbourhood and tanks battles in the streets, was not ready to abandon the apartment unless the fire jumped the firewall. She sealed the door from the inside to keep the smoke out and we had esacpe ladders ready (we were only three stories up). When it was all over ours was the only apartment without smoke damage. The hallway had changed from white to black and it was quite odd walking through that every day to go to school. For several weeks we were the only people living in the building. That fire was caused by an old man smoking in bed and falling asleep. He died in the fire.

The second fire was in the artists' live-work warehouse conversion I lived in Gastown. Someone on the second floor forgot about a pot on the stove and went out. The contents of the pot caught fire, it somehow spread to the counters and cupboards, and the apartment was gutted. The buidling was concrete and had sprinklers so the fire did not get far, but the vile black smoke from the burning particle-board and plasic in the modern "fire retardant" cupboards filled the second floor and all the upper floors. And of course the water from the sprinkers, when they finally kicked in, flooded the apartment below. Only my apartment and the apartment beside mine on the first floor were spared both smoke and water damage because the building, prior to its conversion, had been a cold storage warehouse and the floors were ever so slightly sloped for the sake of melt-water drainage. We were at the high end of the first floor in the area that once housed the administration offices.

The third fire was just over three years ago in the building I'm still living in. The fire itself did not spread much beyond source apartment and the hall beyond, but like the previous one, smoke and water damaged almost every apartment in the building. The entire fourth floor and all the apartments immediately below the one that burned were rendedered completely unlivable. kitsune_13 and langsuir were the only ones on the fourth floor to get their pets out alive, all the others died either directly from the fire or from the smoke. It was weeks before anyone was allowed back in at all. And like the previous one, I was spared damage by a quirk of architecture causing the water to flow around my apartment rather than into it. I don't really know how I was spared smoke damage when, even though the fire was on the fourth and uppermost floor, even the basement suites were smoke-damaged. Only my apartment and the one immediately below it were suitable for immediate reoccupation once power was restored to the building, and even at that the one below me did have some very minor water damage in the bathroom. Like the first fire, for quite some I and the old lady downstairs were the only people living in the building.

When the fire alarm goes off, I take it seriously. Even though this is the 6th or 7th false alarm within the last two months, every one gets taken seriously. The cats get put in the carrier and taken outside every time (which is getting more difficult now because they now bolt for hiding places as soon as the bell goes off). My patience is at an end for these things. I love our old apartment, but if these false alarms don't stop, it's time to move.

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