Community has every reason to be proud of Burning Mountains
I have over 30 years of experience in the fire service and have worked with many agencies. The most rewarding times have been spent with the brave men and women of the volunteer fire service. These are people who give up time with family and friends in order to help their friends, neighbors, and members of the community that they don’t even know. In the case of Burning Mountains Fire, they give up first and third Monday evenings every month for training, as well as most Thursday evenings of their rookie year for skills training. Many commit extra hours for “outside” training in order to further their ability to do the job. It has been reported that the day of “jumping out of the barber’s chair to respond to a fire” is gone. That is absolutely not true. Fully 80 percent of America’s fire service is provided by volunteers.There have been newspaper articles and several discussions in both the private and public sectors regarding a recent fire near New Castle. My goal is to address some of the rumors and innuendo that have been circulating by presenting facts that are supported by records or multiple witnesses. I also want to take this opportunity to thank the various law enforcement agencies that responded and the neighbors who brought much needed coffee to our firefighters the next morning. Little things mean a lot. We were paged at 11:18 p.m. on a Thursday to a structure fire in the Apple Tree Mobile Home Park. Many of the firefighters who responded had just returned from a fairly gruesome event involving a fatality. By 11:40 the last of six major pieces of apparatus went en route from Station 3. Driving time was less than two minutes, and the personnel on board reported that water was being applied to the fire as they arrived. Most responders had been asleep – they had to dress, drive to a station, don bunker gear, and drive or ride in one of our units to the scene. Firefighters went about their jobs in a professional and workmanlike manner, removing furniture and other personal belongings to prevent fire or water damage even as hose crews moved against the fire. Firefighters worked inside the residence, under an attic fully involved in fire, to save possessions and fight the fire as they have been trained.At 7 a.m., after working for almost eight hours overnight, firefighters called for assistance. They didn’t ask for replacements. They didn’t ask for breakfast. They didn’t even ask for help. They asked for dry gloves because the ones they were wearing were frozen solid. After more than 12 hours of hard physical work in freezing temperatures, Burning Mountains personnel cleared the scene and went to their regular jobs.For whatever reason, the homeowners have decided to vilify the very people who helped them. They accused my staff of intentionally delaying response because they had been paid to do so. That is absolutely false. They have claimed that we failed to actively fight the fire for over 40 minutes after our arrival. That is absolutely false. There is much more that could be reported about this event, but the goal here is not to lambaste victims. Simply put, Burning Mountains firefighters did not install a wood burning stove in the home improperly. Burning Mountains firefighters did not light the fire that spread to the attic and subsequently damaged the home. Burning Mountains firefighters did, however, put the fire out, resulting in saving the structure below ceiling level. Burning Mountains personnel were not just heroes, they performed heroically. The community has every reason to be proud of the brave men and women of their fire department. I certainly am.Brit McLin is the chief of the Burning Mountains Fire Protection District.
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