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Three score and ten or more

Sunday, April 12, 2009

My try at sending someone else’s message.

This is from Thotman (who is on my sidebar, but I can’t seem to get and internal link to work)  If you like this, look him up.  He doesn’t post as often as he used to, but he really gets to his points.  He has a new one this week on global warming that is really important.

I have a neighbor who lost his house recently. Oh, not as you may suppose, it was not a foreclosure, just a really HOT fire.  Yep, burned it right down, along with six other homes on that street.  They SAY it started with a wreck of a Diesel tanker. The funny thing is the whole neighborhood watched the newly established fire department as they "fought" the blazes.  The reason we were all standing there was because WE used to be members of the town Volunteer Fire Dept, and we had actually arrived on the scene to HELP fight the fire.  The NEWLY HIRED Fire marshal arrived in his new eco friendly car to inform us that the NEW FULL TIME FIREFIGHTERS would be arriving shortly with the trucks, hoses, and respiration gear and that THEY would fight the fire. WE WOULD NOT BE NEEDED other than to just do what HE TOLD US TO DO.

Many of us having been in the fire fighting business for much of our lives, realized that the NEW hydrants in the neighborhood were out of service... the line had been shut off while a new subdivision connected to the city supply down the street. We told him he would need to do what we had done BEFORE in major fires, bring in all five trucks, and let US DO OUR JOB, and stop micro managing the situation... but he informed us that the new PROFESSIONALS were in charge and that they didn't need US telling them how to do THEIR job.  Well, when the first truck arrived it was the brush fire unit, that has a VERY SMALL tank, pump and hose. It sprayed about 300 gallons on the fire... by that time that grease fire on Wintertons stove had spread from the kitchen up into the stairway. It was then that the Fire Marshall stopped a passing tanker truck so he would have SOMETHING to spray on the fire. GET the hoses hooked up and get that VALVE open he screamed before leaving them to their task...

We were all SHOCKED as we watched him commandeer that passing tanker truck INSISTING that the cargo of DIESEL FUEL be used to douse the fire. At this point Lobb Lindford a rather portly gentleman who ran the radio station spoke up...I HOPE HE FAILS to get that DIESEL VALVE OPEN he barked into his phone, apparently broadcasting from the scene... When the new FIRE MARSHAL  heard that, he motioned to his CHIEF, who came over and started yelling about our lack of SUPPORT for the new fire marshal and telling us all it was TERRIBLE that Lobb, the DEFACTO head of our old VOLUNTEER department was standing there HOPING the FIRE MARSHAL would fail.  Oh, he then went on with a lot of accusations and rantings, pretty much unrelated to the FIRE AT HAND, about how Linford was our chief and how nobody liked him and how he was impeding the great fire fighting effort NOW in progress by SAYING on the radio that he hoped the  NEW FIREFIGHTERS failed to get that fuel tanker's cargo ON TO THAT FIRE.   Some of us couldnt believe what we were hearing...or seeing. 

The longer the fire burned the MORE the fire marshal talked with the news crew that stood there reporting from the scene.  I understood that for HIM this wasnt a fire, but a MEDIA event.  As his crews showed up,  ONE AFTER ANOTHER THEY LEFT for any list of reasons, mostly they said they were preparing their taxes and couldnt miss the deadline just a few hours away. Others simply QUIT after seeing the DIESEL tanker backed up with hoses leading to the fire.  I suppose they didnt mind the uniform and pay,  but when it came to putting THEIR fingerprints on the hose filled with FUEL, they wanted nothing of it.  Those that did stay were oblivious to what was about to take place.

Linford kept BROADCASTING on the radio from his pick-up about the scene that was unfolding, and even people who had voted to abolish the OLD department and HIRE these new PROFESSIONALS were gathering to see the fiasco unfold.  The CITY COUNCIL came and called a meeting on the Johnson's lawn.  They actually voted on whether there would be need MORE fuel tankers diverted help fight the "biggest fire" since Price's market burned down in the late 1930s (forgetting completely the explosion at the refinery in the late 70s.)  Soon after that the fire jumped to the NEXT houses...and the diesel fuel began to flow.

As he sat there in his shiny new car, cell phone to his ear, some of us began to drag our garden hoses toward the surrounding neighborhood homes and attach them but without a freely flowing HYDRANT LINE there wasnt enough water or pressure to really fight the fire. He got out of the car, and spoke to us every few minutes about how he would NOT ALLOW those houses to burn down.  Then stood before the local TV CREW smiling as if he were RUNNING FOR OFFICE, rather than as someone who ALREADY HAD THE JOB or even knew how to do it. 

The old chief was out of town but we old volunteers naturally gathered like friends at a bar. It didnt take long until we began to grumble about the lack of speed and expertise we were witnessing. We heard he had called for the NEW 800 thouasand dollar ladder truck but that it would be a couple HOURS until it arrived since it was at a maintence shop when the call came in. TWO HOURS? What good will that do?  some of us shouted...  It was as if he didn't hear a word we said.  He just went back over to the cameras, told everyone that this crisis could turn into a catastrophy,  then he jumped in his shiny new vehicle and FLEW down the street to the local deli like he was going to a fire.  When he returned, everyone was all abuzz over some claim by the NEW CHEIF that LINDFORD was the defacto Volunteer fire chief and that FLASH was responsible for this tragedy because he had approved turning off the water while new subdivisions connected to the lines...everyone knew that  Flash Michelson, the old chief wasnt that great, but we also knew that Lindford just ran the radio station as he had for the past 20 years... volunteered when there was a fire, and that WE hadnt needed a chief since the city had voted for a PROFESSIONAL fire department complete with a FIRE MARSHAL AND a NEW CHIEF.  When Lindford had said on the radio that he hoped the FIRE MARSHAL failed to get that fuel tanker valve open...mostly for his belief that spraying diesel fuel on the fire would do more harm than good...most folks understood, but some people will hear what they WANT to hear.

By the time the first pumper truck arrived on the scene the first house was fully in flames and three more had roof fires.  Just then Sally came up in her new car, got out, walked over and SPIT on Linford. HOW DARE YOU SAY YOU HOPE THE NEW GUYS FAIL?  she shouted.  She had been one of the most vocal advocates of a "REAL FIRE DEPARTMENT", mostly because they were building the new fire house on land she had sold them.  Alot of the towns people had benefitted from the decision to disband the volunteers and replace them with this new bunch. Why they even took over the AMBULANCE garage and were buying THREE more ambulances from Harv's local dealership.  He too, was standing there being interviewed by the TV station from the Capital, droning on and on about how the town LOVED the new vehicles and how necessary this CHANGE had been.

Unfortunately what should have been a two alarm fire had turned into a FIVE ALARM BLAZE even tho the CHIEF had not yet been unable to get that second fuel tanker valve open.  He had half the crew working on it and the city council had passed THREE emergency measures on Johnsons lawn in less than  15 minutes.  They had approved two new fire stations, six new trucks, four more ambulances and had determined to hire sixty more fire fighters thru JOB SERVICE...OH, and fix THREE city roads, two bridges, and build a railroad spur to the fairground. (not to mention funding five IMPORTANT recreation or arts programs that had never been important enough to fund on their own) 

I had to smile as one after another Small crews from surrounding cities arrived and their leadership stood before the camera shaking their head and testifying to how horrible this fire had been, how it was the perfect storm for all the difficulties that could NOT have possibly been overcome...all while an accellerant was beginning to be sprayed onto the houses.  The Wintertons whose house was now a pile of smoldering rubble stood by in shock that the fire had not been contained in the first few minutes, and worse that the new fire marshal had been so intent on putting that Diesel fuel on the flames... they had lost their entire life's work. 

Six other houses were still in diesel fueled flames, and when I could no longer watch...I got in my SUV and drove toward home, KNOWING that if something was not done the entire town would eventually go up in flames...HAVE YOU GOT THAT VALVE on that next tanker OPEN YET I heard someone yell as I drove past two FUEL tankers? You're DAMN RIGHT...someone shouted.....I recalled Linfords words as I drove away...and thot to myself..., I wish he had failed... 



At 8:39 AM, Blogger Gayle said...

GADS that had to be frustrating! So much for the so-called "new professionals"!

We live out in the country and thank God we don't have any "new professionals" in our all-volunteer fire department. They saved our house from an electric fire several years ago, at no small risk to themselves. I hope and pray we don't get any "new professionals" in our small community.

At 9:29 AM, Blogger Three Score and Ten or more said...

The title was little bitty print, and I couldn't seem to correct it, but the title of this piece was "Obama the fire marshal". Clarifies the meaning of the whole thing.

At 9:30 AM, Blogger Three Score and Ten or more said...

The title was little bitty, and I couldn't seem to correct it, but the title of this piece was "Obama the fire marshal". Clarifies the meaning of the whole thing.

At 9:26 AM, Blogger Norma said...

What an allegory! I loved it. I will certain refer my hundreds of readers to your site.


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