False Alarms

I’ve lived in my building for four years, and we’ve had around ten fire alarms in that time. Whenever the siren rings, all tenants must go down into the lobby or wait outside the building for the fire brigade to arrive.

Sometimes, we find out the reason for the alarm, and most of the times when we do, it is either a test or something trivial, like someone smoking in their room. Naturally, everyone rolls their eyes and wants to go back to bed.

Not too long ago, we had three fire alarms in a single week. Eventually, the concierge confirmed the alarm itself was faulty. That’s not good, because it makes people go from rolling their eyes to losing faith in the alarm altogether – but the last thing you want is folks staying in their rooms when the building is actually on fire.

It’s hard to keep playing by the rules when you know the rules are flawed, but when it comes to “better safe than sorry,” we should try our best to keep doing it.

More importantly, however, we should only sound our alarms when we need them. Do you have to call an all-hands meeting over one team’s mistake? Did you try calming down the client before panicking in your boss’s office? Is it really the last chance you’ll afford your friend to make up for being late?

Be careful what you yell about. You can only trigger so many false alarms before the bell stops working.