Sunday, April 8, 2018


       By now, most of us have seen the news stories about the tragic fire in New York's Trump Tower. The President formerly lived in this building---a 58-story skyscraper---and it's one of New York City's poshest places. Currently a nice bachelor pad in Trump Tower starts at around $6,000 per month. Condos are going for between $1.8-3 million. And that's just the price for a one-bedroom spread.

       Today's fire broke out on the 50th floor, killing the tenant and injuring four firemen. NYC Fire Chief Daniel Nigro said "This is a very difficult fire. As you can imagine, we are 50 stories up and the smoke is heavy throughout the building."

       I've always had a particular respect for firemen and arson investigators. Not only is it dangerous and challenging work, it's also quite interesting. One would think that a fire would destroy all evidence of its origins, but the investigators and inspectors who follow in the wake of such destruction are almost always able to determine whether arson or accident was responsible. 

       I've been in a few fires during my lifetime. The earliest one I remember was a neighbor's barn when I was 12. My uncle and I went over and joined most of the locals in saving what we could while the building was burning over our heads. It was mostly a dairy barn with a lot of costly equipment. My job was leading the horses out to safety in the pasture; and I got the last one out just before that side of the wall caved in. This wasn't as easy as it sounded. Horses instinctively run into barns when frightened so they had to be blindfolded and led out one by one. The horses were panicking too---they were afraid of the fire but fighting to stay in the barn the whole time. A 100-lb boy against a scared 1/2-ton horse isn't an even match. I well remember that my jacket and shoes were burned beyond any further use. 

       That fire, BTW, turned out to be arson. It turned out that the hired man on the farm was a firebug. He was a few grades ahead of me in school. One day the sheriff came to school and got him and we never saw him again.

         I think that was started my interest in firefighting. There's something about facing a danger as a boy and overcoming it is an experience that stays with us into manhood. A lot of us do this in less drastic fashion, though. 

         The fire in the Trump Tower today is one of the worst kinds to deal with. There are no ladders or fire equipment capable of getting in through those upper stories. The firemen generally have to handle this manually and fight their way up. Injuries to firemen in skyscraper blazes are not unusual. 

         The President praised and thanked the NYC crews for their quick response. They truly do deserve our thanks, because in every call---whether a penthouse skyscraper or not---they risk their lives for our benefit.


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