Not all alarms are false

Some of my columns come out of nowhere. I can’t count the times I’ve told co-workers on a Tuesday morning, press day for The Anchor, that “I’ve got nothing,” of which to put together at least 500 cohesive words.

This morning was no exception. After doing the things that needed to be done for this week’s edition, I sat and stared at my screen for inspiration. Nothing. I sat and stared out the window for inspiration. Nothing. I went to online sports and news pages. Nothing.

An idea suddenly popped into my head, and I began to pound away at the keyboard, relieved I’d make deadline.

Then the fire alarm exploded into a cacophonous racket. Once I returned from clutching the ceiling light fixture after jumping 10 feet high, I, my Anchor coworkers and our downstairs neighbors in the Tribunal Office made the trek outside to await the FRFD.

We sensed this wasn’t a true fire emergency since there was a road crew just outside the building tearing up the street. It was assumed they had somehow set off the irritating din.

As we awaited the trucks, Fathers Rodney Thibault and Jeff Cabral of the Tribunal suggested that this event should make the front page of this week’s edition. (And Father Jeff, this is the second week in a row you’ve made it into one of my columns — don’t get used to it.)

Realizing it was likely a false alarm, I didn’t see the need for a front-page story, but the good Fathers suggested it make my column. I told them that I would make them look like heroes. They agreed heartily.

So dear readers (sorry Father Tim), I must say that Fathers Thibault and Cabral were inspirations to us all as we nervously waited to find out what was happening in our building. They stood in the driveway bravely awaiting the firefighters. Once they arrived, without thought of their own safety, they told the firemen the alarm was downstairs.

Now, it was in fact I who led the men to the alarm in the basement, but that’s not important.

All kidding aside, as I led the men to the alarm I could see the four of them heavily weighed down with oxygen tanks, helmets and fire suits that gave them the look of space aliens, rather than firefighters — on a hot summer day to boot.

I realized that every alarm to which they respond, they come prepared the same way — not knowing what they’ll find once they get to the site, a site sometimes fraught with danger and folks in peril. It’s their job to handle it.

These men and women do put their lives on the line on each call, and walking so closely by their side for a mere minute gave me a greater appreciation of that.

The alarm was indeed false, but it provided me the opportunity to see, up close, true heroes in their element — and there’s nothing false about that.

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