Bonney and I heard the earsplitting and shrill alarm coming from the home of someone on our block. We joined several neighbors out on the street to determine who was in trouble. Shortly we discovered the alarm was coming from Elizabeth’s home. What was the emergency?
As we opened the front door to her unit we could see disturbed Elizabeth in the great room at the far end of the hallway and a panic stricken young girl in the hallway holding her hands over her ears. The girl was a new healthcare assistant who, while attempting to switch a hallway light, switched on the emergency medical alarm. The innocent girl had no idea what she had done and was petrified. One of us walked in and threw the switch to the off position and the horn became silent.
I was not surprised this happened to the girl since I had activated our alarm the second day after we moved into our unit thinking I would switch on a hall light. No one had told us that a brown switch was an emergency medical alarm. Besides the switch in the hall we had another one in the master bedroom.
At one time each Cloister unit was connected by phone line to an emergency response number as well as the Emergency horn on the outside of the building. The system was called “Silent Knight” with an electronic sending box in the garage of one of the residences in the Duplex building. The Medical Emergency and Smoke detectors for both residences were connected to the one sending unit. Some people still have the original Alarm stickers on their front door. A new Metro ordinance, service costs, and annual license fees made this service too inconvenient to continue. The “Silent Knight” box was disconnected.
The system was rewired so each side of the duplex had a cutoff control box for their smoke detector. In the garage of one unit was the disconnected “Silent Knight” box(a metal box with a key and red button in the front panel) and a new Smoke Detector Cutoff Control box(with a black button on the front panel) mounted on the wall near to the “Silent Knight” box. The other residential unit in the building had a cutoff button located in the hall closet or the laundry area.
I learned another lesson the hard way while grilling a steak on our new stovetop grill pan. I thought the vent fan would take away the smoke. Was I wrong! The grill smoke bellowed out of the kitchen and set off the smoke alarm. I poked at the button on the ceiling smoke alarm but that did nothing and the outside horn kept on screaming. Bonney and I ran to the garage and were faced with two boxes. At that time we didn’t know which was which. We tried each, the disconnected “Silent Knight” red button, and what we now know is the Smoke Alarm Cutoff black button. I held the black button down while Bonney opened the outside doors and cleared the place of smoke.
Unfortunately so many people have set off false alarms that many of us tend to ignore the alarm horn. If you hear an alarm coming from my home and it lasts more than several minutes please come to see what’s wrong because we probably need help.