General Etiquette > Life...in general

Sorry, your house is on fire, but I didn't mean to bother you/Happy update p#30

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mrkitty:
So I feel really stupid.

Last night at midnight I stepped outside the front of our unit to unplug the Christmas lights, only to notice thick clouds of smoke billowing from a vent above the neighbor's window. Our unit faces the side of their unit across the street. The thick smoke smelled of cooking oil, and it was starting to smell charred. I ran to my home, called 911, and the dispatcher asked me, if it wouldn't put me in danger, to please notify the neighbors that their house was on fire. Mind you, I DID NOT see any flames, and I reported that to the dispatcher. Nonetheless, out of a sense of caution (I covered more than one tragic grease fire in my career), and the fact that we live in an apartment complex, I thought it best to call in the fire department and the dispatcher agreed and sent them.

My DH and I rang the bell, knocked repeatedly on the door. The house was dark and quiet - which was even more worrisome to me. Finally, the young couple ambled to the door, but didn't open it (not that I blame anyone; in this kind of world, who could blame them for that at midnight?). Due to a language barrier, I don't know if they understood why we were so frantic. They just stood there, shaking their heads, as if they didn't understand a word we were saying.

Meanwhile, the clouds of smoke outside were getting more thick and heavy, and we motioned for them to come outside and see. FINALLY they did. Meanwhile, while DH was trying to tell them about a suspected fire in their unit (or above, in the attic space), I went next door to the attached unit to inform those neighbors. Took them a while to answer the door, but at least they understood and came out right away.

The fire department showed up (they sent two engines) and looked for the fire. Apparently from what I overheard, there was a small contained grease fire in the kitchen of the unit of the non-English speaking couple. Why they look mystified about us frantically informing them of a fire I do not understand. Anyway, the fire department made sure that it was out and they left. They weren't there very long - I'm thinking the couple put it out before the fire dept got there. I guess it turned out to be not a big problem at all, and they left. I felt very stupid, and horrible for waking up two households for nothing.

Anyway, afterward, the neighbor from the unit next door cussed me out for waking them up at midnight for no reason. I told her I was sorry, but I was told to inform anyone in potential danger, and I was very worried about them. She told me all I did was rob her of sleep and that I'm stupid for running around waking people up.

Finally, I responded "ok, God forbid your neighbor's house catches fire next time, I'll be sure not to bother you," and walked away. I spent an hour crying because I felt so bad. I didn't know any of our neighbors before this, and now I really don't want to. I am afraid to show my face in the neighborhood any time soon, I am so embarrassed.

The question is, should I have just ignored the smoke? Based on the reactions of the neighbors, I feel like I did the wrong thing and summoned the fire department erroneously. I feel foolish and like I rudely inconvenienced others. I know my response to her was rude, and I'm sorry about that. It was just so upsetting. Is there a more polite way I could have handled this whole thing?  :o

Clarin:
I think you were perfect and your neighbour is an enormous beast for being so angry. And I don't even know if your response was rude - after all, she said not to wake her up and you said in the future you wouldn't. How could agreeing with her be rude?  >:D

But seriously, I think you were absolutely fine. The dispatcher told you to alert neighbours and you did. I know it's hard but please don't let the neighbour get you down.

doodlemor:
You did the right thing, mrkitty.  Many, many people die from smoke inhalation.  Sometimes people think that a fire is put out, and it's still smoldering.  Let the professionals take care of something as dangerous as that.

The neighbor was rude and cranky.  Maybe you interrupted something.

MummySweet:

--- Quote from: mrkitty on December 19, 2013, 05:11:55 PM ---The question is, should I have just ignored the smoke? Based on the reactions of the neighbors, I feel like I did the wrong thing and summoned the fire department erroneously. I feel foolish and like I rudely inconvenienced others. I know my response to her was rude, and I'm sorry about that. It was just so upsetting. Is there a more polite way I could have handled this whole thing?  :o

--- End quote ---

You absolutely did the right thing.  Good for you for reacting quickly.  The situation had huge potential to go another (tragic) way.

Several years ago when I was living in an apartment building I was woken from a sound sleep at 2am by firefighters banging on my door.  I realized my apartment, along with the hallway, was full of heavy smoke.  It turned out that a couch in the unit directly below me had been smoldering (its owner was passed out drunk in bed).  My neighbor down the hall was a waitress in a bar and had returned  home after shift to find the hallways full of smoke.  She turned right around, left the building and called 911.  To this day I believe that she saved several lives by her unhesitating action.

I hope your neighbor was just speaking from a sleep-addled brain  and realizes how foolish she was.  You deserve an apology and a sincere and enthusiastic thank you.

alice:
WOW-what a horrid neighbor.  You did the right thing...if you hadn't (after the fire dept told you to), and something had happened..you would never forgive yourself.  Just chalk it up to them being miserable when awakened from sleep too quickly.

Glad all is well...and don't worry about them.  I would rather have you for a neighbor than them!

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