06 April 2006

Black Water

04:05 am
My great-grandmother’s black travel trunk, that crossed the Atlantic twice in the early 1900’s, serves as my night stand.  The things that are on it are a battery powered,  imitation 1930’s analog alarm clock, Andrew Wilson’s Ukraine’s Orange Revolution, a reading light, my glasses and my black Motorola; alarm set, plugged in to charge. It’s the Motorola that vibrates and rings at 04:05 in the morning with a familiar name flashing on the blue screen.  It can only be a bad thing when one of your manager’s names lights up on your phone at 04:05. How bad?

04:50 am
I arrive on the second floor of our new building and the smoke is still too thick to see across the workshop floor. Someone hands me a wet cloth that I hold to my mouth while walking into what looks like a thick fog to see where the fire had been.  Now fully extinguished, by a Ukrainian designed and installed sprinkler system, it had been in a small contained area yet the volume of black smoke it generated was enough to fill the entire workshop.  No injuries I think to myself. That’s a good thing. I look down. The bottoms of my boots are hidden in one of the large pools of black water. I swirl it around and wonder where the drains are?

05:30 am
I wash my eyes, mouth, and nose out as best I can and drink some milk to counteract the smoke.  It tastes good especially compared to the evil smelling smoke from burning synthetic materials. Floating chemicals. I’m a little high actually – no, not in a good way. A little anxiety starts here. Insurance? Equipment damage? Will we open in time for business? And what about the grand opening five weeks away? Did I sign those fire regulation “Nakazy” or are they buried in one of my “In” piles?  What’s with this spinning in my head?

06:10 am
The authorities are here now. Joy. MVS officers with star covered epaulets, experts with black jackets and combat pants; everyone but the firefighters (Pozhezhnyky) who have not yet responded. I embark on my now scripted ‘government inspector’ song and dance, playing their game, while my team wastes valuable minutes scribbling on “Poyasnenia” documents instead of dealing with the mess.    

06:30 am
Morning cleaning team arrives on schedule and gets right to work (interesting). Off-shift cleaning staff is called in to help.  I am amazed at the dedication with which they work to clean up the acrid mess. No complaining, no finger pointing, just solid, efficient work. Screw anyone who thinks Ukrainians don’t work hard.  

07:10 am
I pull up the video camera archive on a PC.  There it all is. 03:31, small flame, larger flame, smoke, and water.  Eerie. I think back to that design meeting where I voiced my opinion against a video system, not wanting a big brother feel. Now I’m checking the archive footage for the second time in one week. Last week we caught a shoplifter on video.

09:00 am
Management team meeting.  Things worked; other things failed; no one was hurt. This time. We document the issues and develop an action plan.  I propose we get our emergency response planning shit together. Everyone nods.  


cherolex said...

Did it really happen? With you or with somebody else?

Shoplifters in car show room?...hmmm...

petro said...

all true. with me, yesterday. the word shoplifter does sound funny in this context...

cherolex said...

Then I am amazed with your calmness.

It is none of my business, but dare to ask: any substantial damage and can it be covered by insurance?

petro said...

won't get into that here. it'll have to wait until we meet one day at blogger beer night in kyiv.

cherolex said...

I agree! Deal: beer in Kyiv ;)

The Ranger said...

Hey Pal. How in the blue hell did this happen ? I am as glad as you are that no one was hurt. Sorry that it had to happen to you.