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?