Fire alarms are, in every true sense of the word, alarming, and have been involved in my life for as long as I can remember.

At High School
I remember very few fire drills at high school if I am honest, except that they were almost always someone pulling the alarm or a fire in the Chemistry Labs. Once, the fire engines turned up, and they all started to get hoses and stuff out of the trucks. It was pretty exciting at the time, but there was no fire and as such, no real drama.

At Work (as a Student).
When I worked in the Link mobile phone store we were hooked up to the Glasgow Central Station fire alarm ring. Anytime the station pulled it's alarm, we were sent hurtling out of the shop and across the street. The best thing about this was the number of engines that had to turn up was great and that we could, from afar, watch the idiots trying to open and close the front door into the shop several times.

At University (as a Student)
Once, in my 4th year, I trundled into University with my head phones in my ears, in a drunken hangover. I walked all the way into the Thomas Graham building's "front" door which, at the time, very few people used, because it was being done up. I sued it as a quick way to get to the 2nd floor of the James Weir and my department's class rooms. I walked all the way into the corridor and happened to glance up at the building's doorway. There was a sign there that said DO NO ENTER WHEN FLASHING. It happened to be flashing. I looked along the disabled access corridor to see a large crowd of people standing outside. I walked out to find over 400 students shivering on Cathedral Street looking at me bemused as to my late arrival into the cold. I went to Greggs.

At Work (in Scotland)
In Scotland we have fire alarm tests every single week, sometimes on a Wednesday and sometimes on a Friday. The few times that there has been an actual evacuation I have wandered outside and chatted with my mates before having to reenter the building 30 minutes later. If there is ever a drill, it's always done as a surprise.

At Work (in Houston)
In Houston, however, when a drill takes place no one leaves the building, instead being instructed to stand at the doorway to the fire escape and wait for a while. It is also broadcast on what day and what time the alarm would sound. What's the point, then? Recently there was a fire drill planned for 1.30pm on Thursday and, at 3pm on Wedneday, the alarm went off. This meant that as I walked down the stairs slowly but purposefully, I found many Americans standing at the doorway not leaving the building. I walked over to the door and opened it to a few people muttering 'it's not even a real fire' and 'we are supposed to stand at the door'. I left.

Interestingly, on the Friday, we received a tanoy message that said 'Disregard the Fire Alarm if it goes off' which meant, obviously, that if there was going to be a fire, we would have all died.

At a Hotel (while taking a shit)
In Austin we had just checked into the Hotel after a 2 hour drive. I ain't going to paint a pretty picture - I was choking for a poo. At any rate, after getting the room, I went to deploy the package and was mid wiping when the alarm goes off. I shout 'Oh christ no!' as Connie laughs. Anyway, without washing my hands, we leave the hotel and decide to go and have a pint of Guiness.