The rural fire that destroyed a home east of Paris Thursday is a reminder to all of us how lucky we are to have fulltime, professionally trained firefighters protecting residents of Paris and its environs.
There were several challenges facing the Paris and Vermilion fire departments when they reached the scene — high winds, a home fully engulfed in flames and ammunition rounds going off as the fire burned. The biggest challenge, however, was a tank beside the house three-quarters filled with propane that Paris Fire Chief Brian Gates quickly realized was being compromised by the fire.
For the first time since Gates joined the fire department, he ordered firefighters to pull back, block access to the house and let it burn. Thankfully, there were no injuries.
Gates’ decision came from years of experience and training as a fireman, captain and now fire chief. While the fire was in a very rural area near Clay’s Prairie, the safety of nearby residents, volunteer firemen and Paris firemen was tantamount.
Many of us don’t realize the amount of training firefighters and volunteers undergo on a regular basis. You can’t be a volunteer fireman by just showing up at a fire scene and holding a water hose. It requires training and a commitment — whether serving in the Paris Fire Protection District of Oliver, Vermilion, Grandview and Redmon — or the volunteers who serve in Brocton, Hume, Metcalf, Chrisman and Kansas.
Thank you to all our firefighters for being there when we need you — for fires, rescues, at accident scenes or just educating us on how to be safer.
We appreciate each of you.