I Call 911 and Thankfully It Is Not a False Alarm

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I was out with two colleagues last evening, turning what had been a pitiful excuse for an executive networking event into a very productive Internet and affiliate marketing business meeting. We were sitting in the outdoor dining area of 1010 in Boulder, on Walnut (it was quieter outside than in, so we could talk), when I realized I smelled….a lit fireplace? No, I was outside.

Then Gail, who was facing the street said “is that smoke coming from across the street?!” (I had my back to the street – I know, not safe given how many enemies I have).

We all look, and by golly it is. I reach for my phone, and Sopan gets up and goes into the restaurant and tells a waiter. Rather than calling 911, the waiter inexplicably comes out to the patio to look for himself.

There then ensues a debate about whether it’s a fire, or maybe someone is cooking up on the roof (not entirely implausible as the Med restaurant is on the ground floor of the building in question, and some restaurants in Boulder do have rooftop dining). Meanwhile smoke is clearly billowing, not just whisping as if someone were cooking.

Well, you all know me – I’m an action kinda gal, so I grabbed my phone, ducked under the railing while dialing 911, and ran across the street to the building, and went into the restaurant to ask them was there any known reason for the smoke on their roof. While I’m entering the restaurant, and quizzing a staff member there, I’m also telling the 911 dispatcher the coordinates – she is waiting to hear what the restaurant employee says.

“Smoke on our roof? That’s not good,” he says, and runs off to find the manager.

I relay to dispatch that the smoke billowing off the ceiling is not intentional, and she advises me to leave the building (I already am) and says that the fire department is already on its way.

I cross back over to the other side of the street to join my colleagues, turn to look..and..the smoke is gone. I kid you not.

Now I find myself in the unusual moral dilemma of wanting there to be a fire – or at least smoke – so that I haven’t just called in a false alarm, and, of course, not really wanting there to be a fire.

(Sidenote: I know a lot of people who face this same quandry in their dating habits.)

Fortunately, exactly the right thing happens to satisfy all requirements for moral and ethical serenity – the smoke starts up again (or maybe it never stopped, we just couldn’t see the smoke for the tree in the way), and there is fire but, as you’ll see, not one that had become serious.

The trucks arrive (3 of them!), and the firemen approach the roof – some by stair, and some in the cherry picker! That was very cool to watch!

They were there for well over an hour – maybe two – time flies when your enthralled, and eventually they all come down from the roof and start packing up. I’m still too embarrassed that maybe, still, I had wasted their time, and so despite the urgings of my colleagues, I don’t go ask one of the firefighters what it was. So Gail does.

It turns out that there was a fire – in the chimney – as a result of a not-entirely-properly-completed (?) cleaning of the wood- fired brick fireplace in the restaurant.’

So it was good that I called.

And it was good that it wasn’t actually a roof fire.

My colleagues also insisted that I take pictures – which of course didn’t come out as it was dark, and there were bright emergency lights, and it was a phone camera. But here they are.



1 thought on “I Call 911 and Thankfully It Is Not a False Alarm

  1. I’m with you, always better to err on the side of caution. We did that with a vacant house (for sale) next to us. Thought we heard an alarm, went over to check, and their basement was filled with smoke.

    The firemen that we called told us that the fire (set by vandals in a loungechair) had just started to touch the floor when they got there. If we hadn’t called, the whole house would have been toast, instead of a little smoke damaged.

    Always better to err on the side of concern for people, I think!

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