Fire training at work is always fun.
We get full training in how fires start, how to evacuate, and how to put out small fire. It’s also done in a practical way so we actually get to set off the extinguishers and put out a fire.
It can be a lot of fun.
I can be an asshole.
You’d think by now they’d know better than to send me on courses.
So the trainers, both serving firemen, were talking to us about evacuating the building and the procedures we should follow. Fire Officer Dan had just told us about the break glass points.
“What happens if you can’t break the glass on break-glass-point?” I asked. My point being that the alarm sounding upsets a number of the people in my place and I could be dealing with those and unable to get to the break glass point.
“You get someone else to do!” he replied.
“But what if they can’t?” Here my point is that not all of our lads would understand it if I told them to break the glass.
“Get someone who can!” said Dan.
“But there are times I’m on my own.”
“Well you break the glass so help will come and then you start getting people out and then you can tackle the fire if you think it’s safe to do so.”
“Okay okay, so I’m on my own, the fire is burning and I cannot break the glass. What do I do?”
“Why can’t you break the glass?”
“I just can’t.” At the time I didn’t think there was any need to fill him in on the hows and whys, all he needed to do was answer the question. In hindsight my point my have become clearer if I’d actually explained where I’m coming from.
“Trust me, anyone can break the glass!” he said.
“Why can’t you? Why can’t you break the glass?”
“I just can’t.”
“Do you have a phobia?” A legitimate question I suppose.
“Have you tried breaking the glass?”
“Yes. Years ago I broke the glass in one of them and set the fire alarm off.”
“And you broke the glass?”
“Then you can do it here.”
“No I can’t!”
“Yes you can!”
“I can’t.” Now I was just being stubborn and had decided he didn’t deserve to know why I couldn’t break the glass.
“It’s not difficult! Just break the glass! Push your thumb into it!”
“I can’t. I can’t break the glass!”
Fire Officer Dan paused and wiped his brow.
“Do you have cordless phone in your bungalow?” he continued.
“Carry it with you at all times. If you see a fire call reception!”
“I don’t know the number for reception!”
At this point I think everyone there, including Fire Officer Dan, wanted to kill me. I genuinely didn’t know the number for reception. Or rather I didn’t think I did. Turns out I did. You live and learn.
“Do you have a mobile phone?” he asked.
“Yes,” I replied.
“Do you carry it with you?”
“All the time?”
“Well most of the time.”
“So in the event of a fire you’d probably have it with you?”
“And do you have staff numbers stored in your phone?” asked Fire Officer Dan.
“Oh yes. I made sure on my first few days to put everyones number in so I can avoid them if they try to… I mean so I know it them and I’ll answer.”
“So you’ll have your mobile phone and you have the numbers of other staff?”
“Have the numbers of other buildings?”
“Yep. I put them in as well.”
“Is reception one of them?”
“Hang on, I’ll check.”
The rest of the room is pretty much planning my downfall at this point and I can hearing them whispering and planning what they’re going to put in the incident report.
“Yes,” I said, “I have receptions number.”
“Good. In an emergency when you’re getting people out and can’t break the glass use your mobile to call reception. Okay?”
I nodded and thanked him. Then smiled. Then said “We’re not allowed to use our mobile phones at work.”