First Arriving Network
Powered by the First Arriving Network,Reaching 1M+ First Responders Worldwide

Former volunteer firefighter has his network newscast disrupted. Watch video of NBC's Brian Williams from 30 Rock as fire alarm sounds.

When NBC's Brian Williams was a reporter at Channel 5 in Washington, DC in the early 1980s and I was a radio reporter at WTOP we talked many times while covering stories about our days as volunteer firefighters. He in New Jersey and me in Maryland. I assume Brian was thinking a bit about that this evening when the East Coast live feed of the NBC Nightly News was disrupted by the fire alarm sounding.

It started right shortly after the broadcast opened with the story on American Airlines and continued through most of the program. But Brian Williams, ever the professional, kept his cool. The Poynter Institute's Al Tompkins has an account of the unusual newscast. Here's an excerpt:

Viewers started reacting, amazed that Williams could keep going.  Why didn’t somebody smash the alarm, they asked on Twitter?

The alarm buzzed on, through the Herman Cain story, through the lead-in to a story about the siege at the British Embassy in Iran.

Williams took a commercial break. When he came back, so did the alarm. Each time, Williams did exactly what he should do, he kept his cool, reminded viewers everything was OK and kept going, even while his voice was overwhelmed by the sound as he introduced a piece on Mexican drug wars.

Knowing my audience, I am sure some of you will say that he should have set a better example for the public and evacuated 30 Rock when the alarm went off. A good point, but somehow I don't think that was likely to happen. The show must go on.



Comments - Add Yours

  • Seasoned Vet

    The left wing proganda must go on!

  • Anonymous

    He was lucky. This time.

  • Fire Critic

    I just talked to Brian Williams…He said you were never a firefighter.

    • dave statter

      Yes, I was not a firefighter twice as long as Brian wasn’t. And tell me again what you were doing in the 1970s son?

  • Bill

    And this is why the general public does not react to fire alarms either. They also feel that their life must go on and just as important as a news cast. He did remain calm but should have set a better example by leaving. It is only news and not worth anyone's life or the lives of those that watching his complacency may effect. Also how did he know everything was ok when he stated this? 

  • WFDT

    Glad to see Brian takes fire alarms just as seriously as most of the general public does.

  • Travis

    According to, it was a scheduled test of the alarm system. So, I think we can stop jumping to the conclusion that he was setting a bad example.

  • Steve in NJ

    Seasoned Vet, I am sure you prefer Fox News. The best place to hear about how all public employees are the devil and that firefighters and cops are to blame for all the economic woes of our nation and how we don't deserve a decent pension or the right to bargain with our employers for wages and benefits. Stick it!

  • Former Chief

    If this was an alarm test, who was the genius that scheduled it during the news cast?  I'm having a difficult time believing that one.  In any event, it would have been an opportunity for him to reinforce what should be done when an alarm sounds.  I believe Evacuation Plans are required by FDNY in highrises.

    • dave statter

      Back in the old days, Chet Huntley could have just said David and left the studio.


      • Former Chief

        True.  I miss those guys.

  • play4keeps

    Brian's dad was a career fireman in NY, BTW.  Also,  NBC is owned by GE, who, like the others have vested business interests in things that matter to them.  Like all things, left and right, it is only a distraction for the masses when the real power controls both.  
    Sorry, got off track.

  • Q2BWail

    Speculation. You gotta love it. I love these sites where Arm Chair Fire Chiefs can make an informed decision with just a few seconds of video.
    By the way, the on air talent always have an ear piece which allows them to get information from a director or producer. Just saying.  

    • dave statter

      I am all for setting a good example. But that said, reporters and news crews, including Brian, have put themselve in harm’s way all over the world to bring us the news. I am not sure it would send the right message if Brian ran from a fire alarm and said the news couldn’t go on.

      I am not clear from what I have read that this was a test. Either way, you are correct, that through his earpiece (IFB), a producer is likely giving him information about what was going on.

      For all we know, they had info that someone banged into a pull station or knocked off a sprinkler head.


  • CLT FF

    I agree with Dave, I do not think it set a bad example and if it was a test. – someone is in trouble.
    I watched it live and it was an issue for the bulk of the news cast. I think Brian handled it well and he seems like a pretty good guy.