Saturday, January 15, 2011


Some people can sleep through anything. Not me. Certain sounds wake me from my semi-conscious state immediately - like the sound of a particular voice, or fire engines roaring down the main street.

Have you ever wondered what the sound of an exploding pop bottle sounded like? Or the taste of a really overcooked twinkie? How about a burning pile of cigarettes? I thought of these specific images early this morning once I woke up and became aware of those things happening. A little before 5 a.m., a (possibly suspicious*) fire broke out less than two miles from me. *I surely don't know, but I'm positive the State Fire Marshall will make a determination after an investigation. It could have been electrical, a coffee pot left on, or something else.*

Lane 22 (as it was called) on State Route 22, a stone building with gas pumps out front and convenience store items inside was ablaze and the local fire department worked to extinguish the flames. I later learned that the fire was contained to the building, no gas pumps or exterior items were involved. However, after seeing the site a little while ago, I was sure my visions of crispy potato chips, pretzels, donuts, and fried twinkies was indeed a reality. I can just imagine what a cooler full of cold pop bottles sounded like exploding in the extreme heat of the fire.

Due to the yellow tape around the area, I was not able to get close for my photo, but I saw that the interior was totally black and just plain poof, gone. You can't see it in my photo, but a second floor window was blown out and also blackened. There were three guys there staring into the front door as I watched, and one yelled to the other about getting some tools. I didn't stick around to see what they were going to do.

This fire was nothing like the huge blaze that brought down a tall brick building in town across from our Dairy Queen many months ago, but it does remind us all that fires can be dangerous and more extreme during frigid cold temperatures. It is always more hazardous for the firefighters during freezing winter conditions, yet they step up to the plate and do their job with courage and dedication. There are some that just don't give firefighters enough credit and appreciation for what they do. They risk their lives to put out fires, rescue people and animals from burning buildings, assist in first responding when a life squad crew is tied up on other calls, since they are all EMT's, and some Paramedics, and they must be ever ready when the fire tone sounds to instantly drop everything and run to their chosen profession's obligation to serve the people.

A good example of true grit and total dedication is our local fire chief. He spent 20 years fighting fires, getting training, and acquiring the all-around skills to be promoted to Chief, then to serve 18 additional firefighting years in that capacity. That's dedication! He is retiring next month, and a lot of people will miss him. He led his department through great strides to a new building, taught others skills and wisdom he had learned over many years of love for the job. He is a proud firefighter and leader, and I have seen him in action, as that leader of men, on fire scenes I photographed in the past. I just hope that the next person chosen to succeed him will have the same kind of dedication to the profession and love for this community to carry on the high standards set by our retiring chief.

I don't drink, but Chief, I raise my glass to you and toast your career, and just know that in my eyes, no one can fill your shoes like you can. Enjoy your retirement and know how grateful some of us are for what you have accomplished and what you have done for this community. Salute!

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