Editorial, Jan. 10, 2019

Jan 10, 2019
Source: USFA.fema.gov

Fire Chief correct

Troy Fire Chief Gregory Packard Jr. was not remiss in stating that clutter hinders firefighting efforts. Surprisingly, the Board of Selectmen felt differently and issued a public apology, at the request of a family member, to a couple who lost their home to fire.

In fact, it would have been irresponsible for the chief not to have spoken up — that is his job.

While a statement such as Packard’s may be embarrassing for the person(s) involved, the fire chief has a duty to make the public aware of things that cause problems for emergency crews.

Like clutter.

Like making sure all exits are clear.

Like having working smoke detectors and checking the batteries frequently.

Like having and practicing an escape plan, especially for children who might be scared and confused with smoke inside, beeping smoke detectors and masked firefighters approaching them.

Like not storing combustible materials near wood stoves.

Like having chimneys and fireplaces inspected before use.

Like installing house numbers in a clearly visible location.

Like paying attention to what’s on or in the stove or oven.

Like ensuring snow is cleared from driveways so equipment can get close to burning buildings.

Like not leaving burning candles unattended.

Like not overloading electrical outlets, cords or power strips.

Like using space heaters safely.

Like safe use of generators during power outages.

Like disposing of wood stove ashes properly.

This couple was fortunate to lose only possessions, and although one uses a wheelchair, firefighters fortunately were able to get both of them out safely. But the next person might not be so lucky.

We agree with the Troy selectmen that it is not pleasant to be called out in public for the amount of clutter in a home, but if Packard’s words — or this editorial — open the eyes of just one person, it is worth it.

Winter often sees more fires, and many are related to heating appliances or cooking. We all need to take a good look around our homes to make sure we won't slow down or in any way hinder firefighters if they're called to save our dwellings or, potentially, our lives.

Troy selectmen did not even bother to consult the fire chief before issuing their ill-informed public statement. They owe Chief Packard an apology.

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