Postaday 2011: Lucky Fire Escape
It was only for a few seconds – thirty, maybe.
I had done a casual risk assessment of throwing a small birthday party at work. I had assessed the risk of having a knife out to cut the cake. I had thought that a group of adults could cope with the excitement of matches to light the candles. I had thought about people’s food allergies and intolerances – no gluten, no nuts: no problem.
We lit the candles and sang happy birthday. The candles were blown out. Wisps of smoke spiralled upwards.
Towards the MOST SENSITIVE SMOKE ALARMS KNOWN TO MAN.
Previously, they have gone off when people have used too much deodorant. They have gone off when spray adhesive was used. And here I was with about ten, recently extinguished, NAKED FLAMES…
All of us realised what was about to happen. I stood like a fish, bit-botting, while a colleague set about opening the high windows with the pole, while another wafted the smoke towards the exits with a folder.
My near future flashed before my eyes: an evacuation of 800 people. A £500 fine. A row from the boss. A withering look from my husband. I’d be a legend in my own time.
Thirty seconds passed. The smell depleted.
I have never felt so relieved, stupid and lucky.