DIY And The Art Of Fire Protection – Part 1

I have had a week filled with fire protection devices. Before anyone panics, there’s been no smoke and certainly no fire. No flames, no ashes, no cinders. I am happy to report that the house and all its inhabitants are still intact.

These encounters are largely due to the Italian Stallion and his passion for DIY. Actually, having a hubby who not only has the passion, but the skills to match is extremely beneficial, although the downside is the potential to be woken up at 7am on a weekend morning to the sound of a working drill emanating from the garage below the bedroom. Passion like this cannot be confined to normal waking hours.


I really only came into the benefit of a DIY household in my marriage. My late father’s DIY skills extended to dialling the phone number of the nearest handyman and to negotiating payment and price. Dad did a fair job although he was the consummate delegator to my mother who then had to deal with the handyman to get the job done. My working mother was wise, she always knew that when Dad said “we need to get the pipe fixed” that translated to “you, my darling wife, need to be here to oversee the fixing of the pipe, wait around in the hope that the handy man shows up and inspect and approve the work with the skill of a seasoned building inspector and arrange payment”.

Anyway, back to the present…

Some years ago, my State introduced the requirement for every residence to install smoke alarms within a certain distance of each bedroom.  This meant we had to install a smoke alarm somewhere near the upstairs bedrooms. The base of the stairwell to our second story is near the kitchen and the Italian Stallion used his wonderful DIY skills to promptly install the alarm in the ceiling above the said stairwell base on the ground floor.  However, this smoke alarm is a bit of a SNAD – sensitive new age device and starts shreeking with monotonous regularity. The fact that it does this at the times I am preparing dinner is purely coincidental.

For whatever reason, the SNAD has decided it cannot cohabit with the oven. The oven has been cleaned to within an inch of its element, but still the SNAD has issues. Manually turning off the SNAD would be an easy task – a push of the button – if only I was an Amazonian. I am not short, in fact I can push five foot, nine/ten inches in heels. However, the ceiling is about six and a half feet off the ground above the stairwell. Even balancing on the third step, I am an inch or two short and I can’t even use a chair to stand on given the stairs. I have therefore resorted to using implements to silence the SNAD. This week it was the feather duster jab… it worked, but I came away with an extra plastic bit in my hand. I have also used a shoe, a rolling-pin, a broom and a loaf of bread. I’m quite partial to the shoe technique although this tends to leave unwanted scuff marks in the absence of Lionel Richie having danced on my ceiling.

Things are only marginally better when either my eldest or the Italian Stallion is at home. They of the required footage and inchage also suffer from selective deafness. When the SNAD finally penetrates either brain because it has reached some arbitrary unbearable level, out storms one or the other and silences the SNAD usually with a fist and a grunt for good measure. The result is silence and a rather sad smoke detector with cover, battery and wires left hanging.

We live in a world where we have armed ourselves with protection and reminders – fire alarms, car alarms, house alarms, merchandise theft protection devices, alarm clocks and phones  – and spend our life ignoring them. Most shop assistants don’t even pause when they hear the noise, they have experienced so many false alarms. Office workers spend their lives dodging fire drills and nobody tends to move when a fire alarm activates. Car alarms are more often used to find lost vehicles after a happy night out.

The next step for us is to send the oven and SNAD off to couples therapy. Either that or it’s take away every night. Now, there’s an idea…

Are there any noises that really annoy you? Do you have your alarms well trained? 

About the curtain raiserhttp://raisingthecurtain.netI have spent my life in offices. For now I am putting that behind me and preparing for the second act. Middle age didn't come with acceptable signposts so I am making my own through my writing. A journey shared is more fun than going it solo.

28 thoughts on “DIY And The Art Of Fire Protection – Part 1

    • LOL, pork chop detector. I’m going to borrow that if you don’t mind Elyse.

      I think what’s worse is when you start getting the alarm rythm in your head and you pre-empt the next beep.

  1. Nothing like a shrewking alarm to annoy the soul. The dead battery beep is something that especially drives me nuts. 🙂

  2. It’s great you have a DIY hubby (I assume that means “Do It Yourself”). As for those smoke alarms, why does the battery only get low at 4 am, and why, oh why, is the darn source so hard to find?!

  3. Brilliant! And a good point! I hate that sound of thhe smoke alarm. But it does remind me of my grandmother who always used a dish towel to fan the air around hers. I love it! Thanks for sharing. And don’t forget to check those batteries! 🙂

  4. I love the name SNAD, great one. We also have one in our kitchen area, it too goes off frequently. What I have discovered in my short stature is waving a tea towel frantically in the general vincinity does help, if nothing else, it relieves my frustration as I realize how ridiculous I look doing it. Thanks for the laugh… have a great day, good night from here! DAF

  5. Once upon a time, we had a fire alarm that went off at all hours of the night, and kept going off despite repeated attempts to silence it by flicking the switch. We replaced the battery, had the wiring checked, moved furniture around (as if that would help) and of course the alarm just kept waking us up at 2am, and 3am, and 4am.

    We named it Boris, after the sneaky Russian bastard in Snatch, who refuses to die.

    One day we got so sick of it that we pulled it out of the ceiling, and went back to blessed sleep … only for Boris to wake us up again. Damn thing still had the battery in – so even unwired and left on the kitchen bench it could still screech at us. So we removed the battery, stomped on it for good measure, and had ourselves two fire-alarm free nights. Then suddenly, magically, Boris started screeching again. We ran to check it out – and there he was, reattached to the ceiling and going off like the house was on fire. Turns out my father-in-law had been by and helpfully reinstalled it for us.

    Eventually we got the manufacturer to replace Boris, and then we moved out of that house, and he never bothered us again.

    The end.

  6. I have murdered my share of smoke alarms over the years…broom handles work well! They are important to have in the home, they know it heir power and use it to drive the residents crazy..why?..because they can!

  7. Enjoyed your post here, written with humor about what can be a maddening problem. Worst smoke alarm ever in my experience, was the one many years ago, that used to go off every morning in our apartment, because it was on the ceiling just outside the bathroom, and it would go shrieking off just from the slightest wisp of steam from our morning showers.

    I woke up in a bad mood early on a monday morning to get ready for work, and my mood was extra bad due to a hangover. I showered, smoke alarm screamed at shower steam, and so I beat it to death with a hammer. End of problem and I guess we’re lucky that the toilet never caught on fire.

  8. Very timely reminder that I need to buy myself another detector…..the rotten thing kept beeping though the night last week until I had to get up and remove the battery. It still kept beeping so I killed it with a lump of firewood which was nearby.

  9. My detector is in my BEDroom. When I’m cooking in the kitchen, it goes off in there and I usually run to it and snap a towel at it. Mostly it shuts up then. Until the next time. UGH!

  10. Pingback: I love you like a lovely thing « Queen Gen

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