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Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 1,691
SvenNYC Offline OP
While a bunch of us were hanging around in our across-the-hall neighbor's flat, we noticed some of the light bulbs in the ceiling start flickering.

So I get up to disassemble one of the lamps to tighten the bulbs. While I'm doing this, one of the other people who were still sitting in the living room (facing the street) remarked that it smelled a bit like burning plastic or rubber.

Three minutes later, a couple of firetrucks come a-whooping down the curve and squeal to a stop in front of our building. These are followed by a few more.

Ohhhkay....says I as I start heading out the hallway to grab a coat (just in case). I'm already getting nervous because this is a brick-shell building but the inside is all wooden lath & plaster and floors made out of wooden planks.

A squad of firemen traipse in, in all their regalia, and start looking for "where the power comes in" so I take them to the super's apartment in the basement.

Out walks this frazzled Polish guy with a cigarette dangling from his fingers...wha-happened? So they ask him to show them where the power to the building enters -- he takes them to the meter room. Nothing seemed to be wrong

Then explain that they had gotten calls about lights flickering all over the bulding so they wanted to see if everything was good in the building.

Turns out it was actually a fire in the transformer vault on the corner (in Manhattan, all wiring is underground, by law). The crew took care of that

When we went out for a walk (more of a slosh)we could still smell the acrid stench of burning insulation.

My guess is water probably leaked down the manhole into the vault.

We had a good laugh about it later. But it's still frightening, especially when you live in a building that's essentially a pile of firewood inside a brick box.....

Oh, by the way....the bulbs were loose in my friend's ceiling fixtures. [Linked Image]

[This message has been edited by SvenNYC (edited 12-08-2003).]

Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 241
SJT Offline
I'm glad it wasn't anything in the apartment. May be a good time for the super to make sure the Electric is in good working shape and things are safe.

Joined: Aug 2003
Posts: 173
May be a good time for the super to make sure the Electric is in good working shape and things are safe.

In Manhattan?????? [Linked Image] [Linked Image]

Speedy Petey

"Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new." -Albert Einstein
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 5,392
i had to carry on for over a month here to get the attention of a fire marshal to look at a smoking K&T joint a while ago.

this 4-unit apt had no smokes, no gfi's, and the K&T ciruitry had been tagged onto by the owner (or his minnions) without a permit...

funny how the response is so different from state to state eh Sven?

maybe i should have dialed 911?


Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 1,143
Reminds me of the time I got a "911" page from my girlfriend.

My buddy and I had gone to the bar after a FF union meeting, and, while just starting a beer, get this page. Ask for the phone and call home.

Panicked GF - "Doug, there's smoke and gas coming out of the basement... I called the station, and they said you were gone, but they're coming over..."

Told her to grab our son, and what cats she could, and get the heck out. Drove home in a hurry (Being beat to a fire at my own house would be embarassing), and pulled in 10 seconds before the engine.

Meet up with my Lt. in the driveway, and we go inside. Found a light gray haze, and the familiar "fried insulation" smell of a ballast / transformer burnout.

Turns out the GF had turned up the thermostat right before the "fire". A few days earlier, I had cleaned the burner tubes; apparently, while replacing the front cover, I accidentally shorted the low voltage lines to the thermostat - when she turned it up, it energized the system,and fried the aquastat.

Luckily, nothing major...we opened some windows and aired the place out for a few minutes. Still kind of a pucker factor to get a call for a fire at your own house!

(Re-routed the wires, and installed a new a-stat the next day. DOH!)

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