|Apalachin Fire Department
"It was Only a Grass Fire…"
Why, it was only a grass fire.
Every year, members of our fire department and thousands more like us around this nation spend long, hours in hot gear, trudging over hills, through heavy brush and brambles. We carry a tank with 5 to 7 gallons of water, at 8 pounds per gallon on our backs. We use rakes, shovels, hoes, brooms and a peculiar tool called a Pulaski to dig, claw, or beat the fire out. What do we do this for?
Well, it was only a brush fire.
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, a division of the Department of Homeland Security, in 2006 a total of 98,385 wildfires devastated over 9 million acres of land in this country. Between 1985 and 1995, wildfire destroyed more than 9000 homes in the United States. (The Wildland Urban Fire Hazard, Insurances Services Office, Inc., December 1997) Granted, the problem is bigger in the Western states which are experiencing heavy drought conditions. However, plenty of those homes were here, in the North East, in New York State.
How do these destructive fires start? Some are from natural causes, mostly lightning strikes into dry areas. However, most are caused by us. Humans. Remember Smokey the Bear? Carelessly thrown cigarettes, unattended campfires and bonfires can become big fires very quickly, especially with alcohol involved. Burning of brush, debris and trash is not only dangerous; it is prohibited by law in the Town of Owego.
This time of year, when the dried grasses and dead branches of winter provide lots of fuel is the most common time for wildfires in our area. It always seems that the unlucky homeowner, who tried their hardest to put the fire out, but ended up having to holler for help, tries to explain that "It was only a grass fire." It may have been, but as you can see, even grass fires can be fatal for firefighters.
If you have any questions about the policies on open burning,
you can contact
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