Sunday, May 3, 2015
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Few fire calls? Well, I’m one of them

By Glen Byrns

First let me say that I’m not a firefighter, union member or follower of Davis politics. I’m an ordinary citizen who is retired and enjoys backpacking, building model airplanes and rebuilding old English cars for fun.

There’s been a lot of talk about reducing staffing levels for the Fire Department. During the discussion, it was often mentioned that Davis doesn’t get a lot of fires, as fire calls apparently amount to 1 percent of the call volume. Well, here I am, the 1 percent. The 1 percent who always thought of firefighters as a group of people who live down the street from me and are there for other people.

I feel compelled to write this article not because I have a particular cause, but rather to share with you what can happen to you if you are so unlucky as to join my wife and me in the 1 percent, and to point out how things will change with reduced staffing levels.

I came home from a week in the Sierra on July 9, 2012, and dropped my backpack on the dining table. My wife got home, parked in the garage and decided that since I’ve been gone for a week, we should go out to dinner. I agreed and hopped in the shower. Less than 10 minutes later, my wife came running in and yelled, “The garage is on fire.”

With the words still processing in my head, I grabbed my robe, ran down the hall and opened the door to the garage, thinking I could put the fire out. As it turned out, I couldn’t. The garage was already filled with flames. All I could do was to close the door, grab our dog and run outside. My wife and I stood outside helplessly holding our dog watching the fire consume our house. It seems a transformer that powered the yard sprinklers for some 30 years had failed and ignited the fire.

Within minutes (though it seemed like an eternity), a fire engine came screaming down the street. Firefighters went to work right away. They went inside a burning building and stopped the fire at the garage (I lost two of my beloved vehicles), but they saved everything else in my house. They carefully put all the salvageable items in an area so we could go through it later. They spoke with my neighbors to make sure we had a place to stay. They contacted a board-up company to make sure our house would be secured. They were there every step of the way.

As my wife and I get our lives back to “normal,” I’m still reeling from what had happened. On one hand, I know how lucky I am to have lost only “things” in my life. I’m beyond grateful for the fact that no one died or was injured. Yet as I sat sifting through the wreckage of the garage and the remnants of my life memories, barely recognizable in the ashes, I realized that the brave and professional conduct of the Davis firefighters on the scene had prevented the complete loss of our home.

I attended a City Council meeting where the staffing levels were being discussed. I sat in the back and listened to the discussion. Interim Chief Scott Kenley used the fire at my house as an example of how four firefighters might have made a difference as far as property damage is concerned. He went on to explain how if there were three firefighters on that engine, they may have to apply water from the outside and risk more property damage.

Not only do I agree with him, I will take it a step further and say that the four-person crew made all the difference in the world. If there had been the slightest extra delay awaiting the arrival of a fourth firefighter before entry could be attempted, the gas tanks in both burned cars would have gone off and the entire house and contents lost. The loss of the garage contents would have paled next to the total loss of all our belongings.

Unfortunately, despite many other professional experts’ convincing analysis and citizens’ personal testimonies on the importance of keeping four firefighters, the city manager went ahead and recommended to cut the staffing level and in the end, only Council members Dan Wolk and Lucas Frerichs stood up for what’s right. To see their motives for their votes questioned angered me. I would suggest that perhaps they are two council members who have carefully thought through the consequences of the intended reductions on the residents of Davis.

Some people may think it’s really no big deal if your house catches on fire, especially if the insurance would pay for it. Insurance has definitely given us the financial strength to rebuild. But no amount of insurance payout could compare to what our firefighters did for us that day. I may only be 1 percent of 4,600 calls, but I’m the 1 percent with a family, a history and decades of memories represented in various possessions that surround us in our home. I’m sure it is no different for you.

Thanks to our firefighters who were willing to risk their lives to preserve it for us, we still have many of those memories. If you think insurance is a replacement for superior fire protection, I can tell you that on an insurance form, the handmade fishing pole from your dad is worth $15. The hammer with his name carved in the handle will bring you $5, the priceless box of boyhood keepsakes in the rafters has no value at all.

I’m one citizen who knows what fire protection is worth. I’m glad two council members felt the same way. I dread the inevitable day that a three-person crew shows up at some desperate neighbor’s door and is forced to wait those critical few extra moments that will destroy someone else’s precious memories.

The shuffling shell game they have presented to justify the reductions may improve service somewhere for someone, but if you are in my neighborhood, it will mean a three-person crew will arrive and hold the line from outside until another crew arrives. In our case, it would have meant that my wife also would have lost much of what is dear to her. That, in a nutshell, is the difference we are being sold.

— Glen Byrns is a Davis resident.

Comments

comments

Special to The Enterprise

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Breaking barriers: For Prieto, it’s all about hard work

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Council to hear about drought pricing

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1

     
    For the record

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

     
    Peaceful Baltimore demonstrators praise top prosecutor

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Nigeria: Nearly 300 freed women, children led to safety

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Graveyard thefts land three Woodlanders behind bars

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A3

    Downtown altercation leads to injuries

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A3

     
    Woman arrested for brandishing knife on overpass

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A3

    Yolo DA launches monthly newsletter

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Can plants talk? UCD prof will answer that question

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    A Scottish setting for local author’s next book

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

     
    Video discusses surveillance of prostate cancer

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    NAMI support group meets May 10

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Dr. G featured on the radio

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Fee proposed on rail cars that haul oil, other flammables

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4 | Gallery

     
    Indoor Fun Fly comes to Woodland

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Garamendi votes against energy, water development bill

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Free beginner yoga class offered

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Internships move UCD doctoral students beyond academia

    By Julia Ann Easley | From Page: A5 | Gallery

    Make Mom a warm vanilla sugar scrub

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6

     
    The secret to Mother’s Day gifting success: Give time, not stuff

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

    Letter book is series of collected missives thanking Mom

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

     
    If your mom fancies something fancy, consider a tea party

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

    Out of Africa and back to Davis: James Carey will give special presentation

    By Kathy Keatley Garvey | From Page: A9 | Gallery

     
    Big Day of Giving makes philanthropy easy

    By Tanya Perez | From Page: A10 | Gallery

    Tuleyome Tales: How are a snake and a mushroom alike?

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A12 | Gallery

     
    Tuleyome hosts Snow Mountain camping trip

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A12 | Gallery

    .

    Forum

    With sincere gratitude

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

     
    A wonderful day of service

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

    Please help Baltimore

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

     
    End of life doesn’t mean life must end

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B4 | Gallery

    Advancing education for California’s former foster youths

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B4

     
    Eyewitness to the ‘fall’ of Vietnam: It was not a bloodbath

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B5 | Gallery

     
    Dangers from prescription pills

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B6

     
    He can’t give it up

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B6

    .

    Sports

    UCD softball splits with Titans

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Trifecta of Devil teams open playoffs Tuesday

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Defending champ DHS clinches a baseball playoff berth

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    Making memories at Aggie Stadium

    By Wayne Tilcock | From Page: B3 | Gallery

     
    Sports briefs: DHS boys win to reach lacrosse playoffs

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3 | Gallery

    UCD roundup: Aggie women speed past Hornets

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B12 | Gallery

     
    Pro baseball roundup: Hudson pitches Giants past Angels

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B12

    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    .

    Business

    Arcadia partners on soybean trait to improve yield

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

     
    Marrone opens new greenhouse

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

     
    New firm helps students on path to college

    By Wendy Weitzel | From Page: A8

    Yolo County real estate sales

    By Zoe Juanitas | From Page: A8

     
    .

    Obituaries

    .

    Comics

    Comics: Sunday, May 3, 2015

    By Creator | From Page: B8