Nearly every day, my eye is drawn up from my laptop or out of deep sleep to find red and yellow lights dashing through the metal mesh that surrounds our windows. Occasionally it's the cops, but generally it's safe to assume that it's the Fire Department and that they've sent a few scouts into the building, a few guys to tap the hydrant, and dozens more to stand, heads leaning back, in the street.
Either way, it puts me on edge. I scurry about the house hiding anything illicit, and then spy out of our dirty glass until they pack up and the strobes round the corner. My response is irrational and I know it. Twice the firemen have come through our building on non-emergency business, assessing what kind of people live there, what the risks the ex-sweatshop presents, and doing other kinds of professional reconnaissance. Twice, they knocked and I let them in, and twice I was greeted by an appreciative, friendly and considerate tone.
In the end I'm happy that I live amongst a bunch of creative delinquents. Their daily calls to 911, for reasons I have yet to comprehend, have made the FDNY very familiar with our corner of Bushwick. In a timber-frame building (with only drywall, aluminum studs and hardwood floors separating each unit) filled with kids smoking cigarettes over open jars of turpentine, you want to know they've got your back.