I am writing this story as most times relief managers have a fairly comfortable job, with just welcoming the guests and preparing the cleaning tasks for the day. However, sometimes you get a doozy. Well this was my turn...
It's 5.00am and dark and rainy and a great \"thump, thump, thump!\" has woken me up in a drowsy state. I am soon aware that an emergency system, with a mind of its own, has sprung to life. I walk around the building and through both levels of carpark but can’t place where this screaming machine noise is coming from. Finally, behind the camouflage of tropical foliage, I spot a small bunker type room with “Fire hydrant pump room“ boldly printed on the door.
Ten minutes later, after finding the key, I enter this small, besser block bunker. I find a diesel engine racing on full throttle. I open the control panel and see a huge red button labelled \"Diesel stop\". I press it in and finally the monster reluctantly stops. Relief for all!
Back in bed 20 minutes later it starts again and I repeat the process - this time the machine realises who is boss and it did not murmur again. This apartment block building is on a hill, looking out to the ocean and needs to pressurise its own sprinkler system as the main supply is not sufficient. The mystery was solved when I later discovered that one of the tenants had used the fire hose to wash down the deck! They will probably not do that again after they receive the account from the fire emergency services!
Two days prior to the story above, late in the evening, a neighbour phoned and in tones not entirely polite asked if someone could come and shut off the buzzer and red flashing light outside his bedroom window. This is a large complex with three different towers so it did take a little time to find the control box and then, in the dark with the aid of a led light, try and figure out what it was connected to and why it was upset. Turned out it was an alarm for a silage tank that was overfull because the pumps were not working correctly. These pumps are connected to sensors and sometimes a bit of foreign matter becomes entangled with the sensor and hence the alarm. The concrete blocks over the tank were too heavy for me so I put both pumps on to manual and flooded the tank with fresh water - after 20 minutes I turned it all back to auto and it was quiet again.
Why do these things test us in the wee hours? They say things come in threes - here is the third!
One morning I opened the office doors and was greeted by a strong gas smell all around the foyer and pool area. It didn’t take long for the guests to trickle in and advise me of the fact. I sniffed everywhere and couldn’t find the source and as it was so powerful I thought it best to ring an emergency number - easier said than done! After nine phone calls to Origin energy, local government and finally in desperation to Triple 0 I still couldn‘t get anyone to help. Would you believe Triple 0 put me through to directory assistance. After a fruitless hour I finally made contact with a gas fitter who came out with his bloodhound Harry Potter type rod, however by this time the wind had got up and the smell had dissipated. The smell never came back so still haven’t got a definite answer
Being a relief manager certainly sometimes has its challenging moments!