Friday, March 6, 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

    Life after lawn: Fifty greens for shade

    By Katie F. Hetrick | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Bay Area developers join Mace proposal

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1

    Trial ordered in Davis child death case

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1

     
    ‘Topping out': Sign a building beam at the Shrem Museum

    By Jeffrey Day | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    CHP car hit with bullet on highway

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    UCD police warn of sexual battery incident

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

     
    Bob Dunning: There’s an exception to every rule

    By Bob Dunning | From Page: A2

    Ukraine declares heavy weapons pullback from front line

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    NASA craft circling Ceres in first visit to dwarf planet

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Got sun? Indoor herbs can thrive on windowsills

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

     
    How can we know that the products we buy for our homes are safe?

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Quick home improvements that raise your resale value

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Spring-clean your kitchen in five easy steps

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    PSAs highlight area nonprofits

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B6

     
    Peripheral neuropathy support offered

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B6

    Workshop eyes creating peace through creative play

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B6

     
    Museum brick sales to end this month

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B6

     
    Cabrillo Club plans membership dinner

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B6

    Dryers: Homes’ energy guzzlers just got greener

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

     
    Need a new best friend?

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B6 | Gallery

    UCD improving farming, food production with fewer pesticides

    By Kathy Keatley Garvey | From Page: B6 | Gallery

     
    Waldorf’s spring tea party doubles as open house

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

    Register online for Woodland rec classes

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

     
    Older adults will discuss conscious aging movement

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7Comments are off for this post

    St. John’s shows off cuisine at brunch

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11

     
    Seniors serious about fitness

    By Savannah Holmes | From Page: A11 | Gallery

    Pig out at Pig Day Saturday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

     
    Porkers on display at Hattie Weber Museum

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

    .

    Forum

    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: B4

     
    Some convicts don’t deserve parole hearings

    By Tom Elias | From Page: B4

    Here’s how to make college cheaper

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B4

     
    Obama’s world is a dangerous place

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

    Dirty laundry on the company line

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B9

     
    .

    Sports

    Blue Devil volleyballers cruise in home opener

    By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    DHS girls track and field team reloads for 2015

    By Dylan Lee | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    UCD women fall at UCR

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

     
    Aggie men clinch Big West crown

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Marsh provides radio images of a ‘magical’ Aggie hoops season

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Sports briefs: Bella Vista slips past DHS softballers

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B12

    .

    Features

    What’s happening

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: B5

     
    Rec Report: Looking ahead to spring break

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B5

     
    Wineaux: A local diamond in the rough, revisited

    By Susan Leonardi | From Page: A9

    .

    Arts

    Steve Kiser’s work on display at Gallery 1855

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9 | Gallery

     
    Tables available at Vinyl and Music Fair

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9

    ‘The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel': Second-rate

    By Derrick Bang | From Page: A10 | Gallery

     
    Learn from experts at ‘Art of Painting’ conference

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A12 | Gallery

    Tom Brousseau to visit ‘Live in the Loam’ on KDRT

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A12

     
    ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ auditions set

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A12

    Hugh Masekela and Vusi Mahlasela celebrate Mandela’s legacy

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A12 | Gallery

     
    .

    Business

    Honey, we shrank the SUV — and Europe loves it

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

     
    .

    Obituaries

    .

    Comics

    Comics: Friday, March 6, 2015

    By Creator | From Page: B10