We take this kind of thing very seriously. Fire, that is. I remember a visit to New Orleans a few years back and seeing all the old gas lamps still flickering in some of the older parts of town, yet I never called 911.
A cell phone caller states she can see flames in the apartment building across the street.
We are first due and first on scene to a multi-story type 3 (Masonry over heavy timber) high rise apartment building. Nothing showing from 3 sides, no alarm ringing, no one has exited the building on fire, or panicked, heck there’s no one outside.
We check the lobby, sure enough, no trouble and no alarm. Wandering around as other units arrive we can’t see anything remotely resembling a fire. The truckmen recently onto the roof have no findings on their secondary search upstairs and have walked down the central stairs, finding nothing on the way down.
Our caller comes out from the hotel across the street and points to the 100 year old gas lamps, which still burn on either side of the front entrance. They are great old lamps, heavy iron and original glass, a small flame still flickering. A great reminder of the history of our old city.
“That can’t be safe, will you put it out?” She asked wrapping her sweater around herself in the chilly air.
“No ma’am that’s supposed to do that.” And we cleaned up and left. Driving back to the firehouse I noted at least a dozen other buildings with working gas lamps and wondered why this call has never come in before.
I’m glad it hasn’t come in since.