With snow flying outside, at 5.45 a.m. today all the smoke alarms in our house began beeping in a way that seemed extra loud. My wife, son, and I threw on some clothes and rushed into the hallway upstairs to check for smoke. Nothing. My wife sped over to the other half of the house that we share with her parents to see what was going on there. They couldn’t smell anything unusual. After about ten minutes and after we had been through the house from attic to cellar, the alarms went quiet. Strange. We wondered if a perking radiator had heated up something close to it or if steam had set off an alarm. Thirty minutes later the beeping started again, and this time it did not stop. I called the non-emergency phone number of the police department (I didn’t want to call 911 for this) and explained the situation. In five minutes, a fire engine and two fire fighters were at our front door. We walked them through the house, looking for a problem. We checked the electrical box in the cellar. The beeping would not stop even when we flipped the breaker to off. Once the alarm goes on, it stays on. Finally, one of the fire fighters noticed that a smoke detector in the attic on my in-laws’ side was flashing red, meaning the battery was bad. We have a hard-wired system with battery back-up. (There are small green and red indicator lights on each device.) That was the culprit. He pulled the dead battery out and all the alarms stopped. When the battery in any detector runs down, the whole system is activated as a notice to change the battery. In the meantime, we had called Crowe & Sons Electrical Corporation on Middlesex Street because their staff had installed the system. Amazingly, an electrician showed up in minutes, while the fire fighters were still in the house.
I want to say a public thank you to the Lowell Fire Department and the Crowe company for outstanding service. We will change the batteries in all twelve of the smoke detectors immediately. The fire fighters suggested changing batteries every six months or at least once a year. Lesson learned.