Interesting Day at the Office

Monday was the last day for one of the higher ups at my office and the event was marked with a lunch time going-away party. Midway through the party, the fire alarm started going off. There had been signs posted by the elevators that morning to announce fire alarm tests, so we stayed put and listened to several short speeches. After the alarms had been going off for nearly 15 minutes, someone came into the room and announced that the building really was being evacuated.
As we walked out of the building, we saw a group of firefighters walking in, all wearing their heavy fire jackets, several carrying fire extinguishers, dragging hoses, and one or two lugging breathing apparatus. MC heard one of them saying the fire was in the building’s basement.
They let us back into the building a half-hour later. As we were walking up the stairs, several of us noticed the smell of smoke. Either there really was a fire, or else it was one heck of a realistic fire drill.
Firetrucks in front of the office
Rumor has it that the fire started when someone threw a cigar into the landscaping and the mulch caught fire. Evidently it was right in front of the intake for the building’s ventilation system. That’s how we came to have smoke in the building.
Regardless of what really happened, this is the only party I’ve ever attended that really did end with the fire department arriving.

2 thoughts on “Interesting Day at the Office”

  1. That happened where I worked about five years ago. A burning cigarette ignited mulch next to the building’s outside wall. According to the firefighters, a vacuum created by empty space between the interior and exterior walls drew the fire up into the side of the building. The firefighters hacked through the outside wall to put out the flames and discovered they were able to kick it in with their boots. The building was covered with inch-thick styrofoam material painted to look like stucco. There was no plywood underneath; it was just nailed to the studs. The clean-up company had to bring in huge fans to rid the building of the burning-styrofoam smell.

  2. I’ve seen those styrofoam facades a time or two. They seem like a great way to put a fancy front on a building without the expense and hassle of bricks, stones or stucco.
    I doubt the builders gave much thought to it being flammable.


    This wasn’t my first experience with the fire department showing up at the office. The building where my previous employer was located was still being finished when we moved in and the fire alarm required frequent system tests. After several months of weekly test alarms, we became fairly desensitized and began to ignore them. One day, when the alarm had been blaring for a while, we finally went outside more to escape from the noise than any sense that it might be real. We were all quite startled when the fire trucks pulled in. (Nope, that one wasn’t a test after all.)
    The next morning, I was chatting with my boss about the occurrence and he spit coffee across his keyboard at the mention of fire trucks. He thought it was a false alarm too, but rather than go outside to escape the noise, he’d merely shut his office door.

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