101 Things the Fire Department wishes you knew



Saturday, April 4

...for the gas leak...


The elderly can be fun. Other times they can be confusing. Sometimes they get lazy, just like the rest of us.

THE EMERGENCY

1 AM and an elderly woman is reporting a gas leak in her basement.

THE ACTION

We arrive lights and sirens and she's not waving us down so much as waving us DOWN, as in "Stop all the ruckus!"
We step down and to her address in full PPE, when she tells us we won't be needing our slickers for this job. Into the basement, which is clean compared to other almost nona-genarians, to not a hint of a smell of gas.

The 50 year old furnace, duct work covered in asbestos, is sitting next to a brand new water heater in the middle of the interior wall.
"I turned on the thermostat and nothing happened. The utility company put me on hold for 20 minutes and said it would take at least an hour for them to send someone. Can you imagine?"
Before I had time to think of something with a double meaning, the near retirement officer reaches over, turns the shutoff for the gas to the 'off' position and tells her, "Not a problem anymore."

"Can't you fix it for me?" She asks as he's walking back out into the cold night.
"No ma'am, you called us to mitigate a hazard and we've done just that. You'll have to wait another 55 minutes for the utility company to come by and fix the problem."

She just looked at us walking away. I kind of felt bad for her having to wait a whole hour to see if her furnace still works or, worse, needs to be replaced. Tearing out all that asbestos insulation is going to be a big expense.

Back at the house the boss made sure we understood his actions. "If we tell her it looks fine and it isn't we go down. $100 bucks says she's got a sue happy kid that would just love to jump on us for something like that. I did the only thing that is solid for us, remove the gas, no emergency."

I hadn't thought that far into the future and like to think people are better than that but, no...no we're not.

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