Sunday, August 19, 2007

So what else could go wrong?

Friday at work was a rather crazy day. It was my first day back after three off, and definitely not a fun way to end a weekend. We first had weather hit at one of our east coast hubs...I had a plane start holding before I even sat down, and they ultimately had to divert to an alternate airport. Then the captain complained I had planned the diversion recovery flight with too much fuel, so I reduced his fuel slightly. Of course, once he took off for his original destination, he ended up holding again, and almost had to divert a second time, but he finally made it in.

During that whole fiasco we had weather and storms hit our main hub in Texas, and I had two more flights on my desk end up diverting. One of them had a maintenance problem and I was worried it would be stuck when they landed at the airport they diverted to, but it turned out not to be a serious issue. Needless to say, I was pretty busy for several hours dealing with all of my flights and the weather.

Towards the end of my shift the fire alarm started sounding on our floor. Since false alarms aren't unheard of in my building, we all kept working (if we leave, the airline tends to shut down within a couple hours.) However, someone from upstairs came down to report there was indeed a fire on the floor above ours. A few people kept working a bit longer, but I decided to go ahead and leave at that point (along with many other people) and walked downstairs and outside.

I must admit our local fire department took this alarm seriously.

I called my sister and her husband, who live here also, to assure them I was okay just in case this ended up making the news. Some people on the overnight shift reported to work at our backup facility because we weren't sure when the situation would be resolved. Ultimately, about an hour later, we were cleared to go back inside, and a fire department supervisor escorted us back in.

Whatever the problem was, it had been contained on the floor above ours. Aside from an acrid odor, we couldn't tell anything had ever happened. I ended up staying two hours past the end of my shift while things sort of got back to normal. A news truck did show up right before I went back upstairs, but the incident was minor enough that as far as I can tell, it never made any of the local broadcasts.

Some people I work with said that the problem was never so serious we needed to evacuate (and in fact, some people didn't evacuate.) But I'd rather err on the side of safety, personally. At any rate, it made for a fun return to work day. I do have to all my years of working in the airline industry, this was the first time I've ever had to evacuate a building during my shift.


Heather Meadows said...

Absolutely err on the side of caution, especially when it's a fire. Fire spreads fast, and if you hang out too long you might inhale smoke without realizing it. You did the right thing.

It's like I say to other drivers (who can't hear me, since they're in their cars and I'm in mine): Is your life really worth the thirty seconds you saved by almost slamming into me when you cut me off? It seems like people don't have the right priorities :> Who cares if you're late, if you or someone else has to die to make you on time? Likewise, would any traveler really demand no delays in their flight if it meant airline staff had to die to achieve it?

Bah :>

Marvo said...

When I lived in the dormitory in college, the fire alarms went off at least once every two-three weeks. The building had one mandatory fire drill, but all the others were caused by some dumb asshat who thought it would be cool to pull the fire alarm. I wish those asshats would think jumping off of a building would be cool too.

Suldog said...

Working in a business involving recording and editing of sound, any time a fire alarm goes off in our building, we just plain cannot work!

Chuck said...

Heather - Definitely, better safe than sorry.

Marvo - Yeah, college has a disproportionate number of asshats living in the dorms.

Suldog - I think our alarms had been going off for about 30 minutes before someone finally told us it wasn't a false alarm.

Webmiztris said...

well, that's scary....glad you're OK... if the floor above me caught on fire at work I'd definitely be freaked out because my husband works on that floor!

Chuck said...

Webmiztris - Actually it turned out to be lots of smoke from some kind of faulty backup generator and no fire...but disconcerting all the same.

Merujo said...

I broke my leg shortly after 9/11, and I was working on the 4th floor of a federal office. We started having safety drills on a pretty regular basis, and let me tell you, there's nothing like having to suddenly jump up and hobble down four stories of stairs, holding up dozens of annoyed, able-bodied peeps, at a moment's notice.

Then again, it was good to know that, even gimpy, I could do it. (I assume, though, had we encountered a REAL problem, people probably would have trampled me in a rush to get out.)

Chuck said...

Merujo - We do have one co-worker in a wheelchair, so I'm not sure what would have happened to him. I think in this case a firefighter would have taken him downstairs in a service elevator.

I remember hobbling up and down stairs after my skiing accident. Not the most fun way to travel.