This morning, feeling very awake despite the hour, I decided to surprise my husband and hang some pictures in The Lounge (aka the basement) after my workout. As I treadmilled along, and with eyes on dashing Cary Grant in To Catch a Thief, I planned out where things would go. Once my workout was wrapped up, I bounced over to the utility room in search of a hammer. I opened the bifold doors and got hit in the nose with a wrenching smell of some sort of gas. I stood next tom my water heater and started smelling every single pipe. I couldn't find the source but what I got was an instant headache. I relocated my precious self upstairs and pondered who to call. Non-emergency fire department sounded like a good plan. As soon as words: "I smell something and I think it's gas" left my lips I was ordered to vacate and wait for the fire department. I figured they'd send out an engine and won't even bother to suit up. But as I paced up and down the sidewalk I heard sirens wailing in the distance. And they were getting close. "Oh, no!" I thought, "they're all coming!"
Batavia fire department response time was five minutes, which I think it pretty awesome. I got a fire engine, an ambulance, and a captain that showed up in a separate car and parked in my neighbor's driveway. Two very large guys, one very young and one in mid-50s, climbed out of the truck in full gear, carrying a bright red device which I decided was a gas detecting thingy. I told them what I thought it was ("I was working out, then I went to the utility room which is enclosed to get a hammer..." which got me a raised eyebrow in response and I'm sure it was the word hammer that arose suspicion) and where to go and they disappeared inside my house. After a couple of minutes there was commotion on the radio and the ambulance took off. I stood on the sidewalk waiting for the firemen to emerge. They were gone for quite a while, I was starting to think that perhaps they pulled up a chair to the bar and had a pint while they were at it. Wouldn't blame them.
They finally emerged and the bigger older guy told me that they checked everything out but didn't find anything and their finely-tuned noses didn't smell any gas. I asked if it could be sewage since there is an ejector pump in the same area. "Let's go down there and check it out! We're not leaving until we know you feel comfortable and OK." The fireman then asked permission to put his helmet on the kitchen table and took off his huge coat before going back down the basement with me. I've never seen their gear up close, it's a lot larger than one would imagine and I am now convinced that on TV they wear slimmed down versions to make them look less bulky.
On the way down the stairs I got a complement: "I like your basement, all my favorite movies on the walls and Ireland." (Godfather, Oceans 11 and 12, Bond... huge vintage map of Ireland and an Irish flag). I told him that my husband was South Side Irish with lot of cops and firemen in the family, which scored even more points because this fireman was also from the South Side and his father was a cop. He barely squeezed into the utility room (note to self: clean utility room so firemen can get in and out without getting stuck) and we sniffed around some more. After explaining the ins and outs of my house's plumbing, we settled on the non-threatening sewer gas possibly escaping from the ejector pit. I was advised to seal around the pipe and the fireman squeezed himself back out. On the way up the stairs, a poster for The Producers play caught his attention (they don't miss anything, do they?). He shared that he recently saw the movie and I shared how we've seen the play and laughed so hard that I fell off my chair, and that when we had out pre-theater dinner we dined at a table next to Mell Brooks and Anne Bancroft).
I was left with an advice to always call 911 if I felt that something wasn't right, that they rather come out to tell me its nothing. I went back into the house and wrapped a rag around the sewer pipe to "seal" it until I figure something else out. I have a feeling a call to the plumber might be coming next. The pictures will have to wait though, I'm not in the mood to be looking for the hammer again.
Although I bet the hammer is in the laundry room on the first floor.