May 10, 2018
A short time ago, we had a fire in the ceiling of our apartment’s front room. Thankfully, we’re all ok. The damage will be cleaned up and repaired and we’ll go on with our lives. Many aren’t so lucky. They don’t have fresh batteries in their smoke alarms. They don’t have fire extinguishers. Or, they don’t have an exit plan (in place and practiced) for their families.
We had all three because I took JMJ’s Incident and Injury Free™ (IIF™) Safety Quiz lessons home. As a JMJ employee, I know that’s the sign people have actually taken safety to heart; they share what they’ve learned with their loved ones. My family was fully prepared. And we escaped this potential tragedy without a scratch because of it. (The apartment wasn’t quite so lucky.)
Here’s what happened: My wife Shirley smelled something burning after dinner. No, it wasn’t dinner! We checked the outlets and the heaters and found nothing. Then, I looked at the ceiling light fixture and noticed black soot marks on both the fixture and on the ceiling. It looking as if something had fused.
Even without the visual, I could smell something burning. Even worse, I could hear the sound of a flame flickering. We put our plan into action.
Shirley called 911 and I got the fire extinguisher just as the flames were appearing. The dry power in the extinguisher smothered the flames. Shirley and Ethan (our youngest) went downstairs and waited for the fire crews to arrive. While waiting, I had to use the extinguisher twice more because the fire kept re-igniting. The firemen, all 12 of them, ripped a hole in the ceiling so they could get to the source of the fire; it had apparently been burning some of the old wood in the ceiling (it’s a 140 year-old building). Let me tell you, they used a lot of water in the process but finally the fire was out . For good. Obviously, the room was a mess. (See photo.) Now, the clean up starts.
Here’s the most important thing to remember: the reason I had extinguishers in the house was a lesson I learned Safety Quiz from the IIF Orientation nearly seven years ago. As I took the Quiz, it struck me that a fire in our apartment in London would be difficult to deal with young children and because of its long and narrow shape. I bought fire extinguishers shortly thereafter. Also, Shirley and I did fire drills with the children. We all learned how to use them. I even practiced with my eyes closed!
When we started doing fire drills the children were young (3 and 7), and I was very conscious of not scaring or upsetting them with talk about fires in the house. What I found worked best was to walk them through the house imagining where a fire could start (the kitchen was most likely) and then planning how they would get out of the house depending on which room they were in at the time. I think they saw it a little bit like a game. We go over it each year. In every house we moved to over the years, we learn the best exit routes and we practice. That’s living IIF. I hope everyone who reads this will take those lessons home, too.
IIF isn’t about doing things at work. It’s about doing whatever it takes, every single day to protect the people you love. That’s having a value that is . You can forget to follow a rule; you can’t extinguish a value you live 24/7.Contact Us