It was 5 o'clock and time to call it a day. Before getting in my car, I went to the trunk, to retrieve everything I had tossed there, earlier, before taking out this afternoon's buyers. There it was, the library book I forgot to return, this morning. Should I wait 'til tomorrow and incur the 25¢ late fee. I couldn't do it - I'm a REALTOR® - in this market, we can't afford to waste any money. So, I took the slight detour and headed for the library.
What was going on? As I pulled in, I was greeted by a parking lot filled with fire trucks. A couple of dozen people were milling around. Parents held on to their small children, waiting to hear when they would be able to retrieve their belongings.
There were firemen spread around the area, but there didn't appear to be any sense of emergency. I parked and cautiously approached the front door. Perhaps I could get to the dropoff slot after all - I was still determined to save that 25¢.
As I approached the front door,I spotted a librarian, that I knew.
What happened? "It's a false alarm. They're just waiting to rearm the system."
Do you know what caused it? "Yes, a boy pulled the alarm."
Was it intentional, or just a little kid, fooling around? "It was an 11 year old and he was here with his mother."
I wonder what the mother said to her young son. A fire, in a public building, potentially could involve lots of innocent people. No wonder so many trucks responded. Did his mother explain that by diverting all that fire and rescue personnel, those resources were not available, if a real emergency took place? We go about our daily lives and take it for granted that these rescuers will be there, when we need them.
I went home and looked up the statistics. The Westport Fire Department responds to approximately 4,000 incidents, each year. They not only respond to the obvious fire calls and motor vehicle accidents, but they are ready, when needed for medical emergencies, animal rescues, chemical spills, lockouts and bomb threats. In our wonderfully treed community, when the storms show up and the winds pick up, they are on call for the inevitable downed power lines. Living along Long Island Sound, their dive teams are always on alert for water resues.
Fortunately, false alarms are rare, in our town. But, if one should be called in, when a true emergency exists, it can still spell disaster. I hope that young man learned that lesson, today.
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