Fire Prevention Week

For whatever reason — maybe just dumb luck — the East Hampton Fire Department has had a relatively quiet couple of years, that is, up to the past few weeks. Most notable was the late September blaze at Ronald Perelman’s Creeks estate on Georgica Pond. 

If ever there was an incident that demonstrated just how sharp East Hampton’s firefighters are, this was it. Trouble was spotted a little before 10 p.m. on Sept. 28. By the time the first personnel arrived, there were flames coming through the roof of the 15,000-square-foot house. With the department’s 95-foot-tall ladder truck above and firefighters inside below, the blaze was under control in about 45 minutes. Other firefighters helped move some of the estate’s massive art collection out of harm’s way. The volunteers had to run an amazing 5,000 feet of hose from Montauk Highway to keep up the attack. Assistance came from all of the departments from Southampton east to Montauk — about 125 firefighters in all.

It would be easy to say “Job well done!” and be done with it, yet coming only a few days before Fire Prevention Week, this and other recent fires should serve as a reminder about safety. According to the National Fire Prevention Association, Americans have a greater chance of dying in a house fire than they did in the past even though the number of fires has remained about constant. This is particularly true for older Americans. The rate of firefighters’ injuries and deaths also has risen. This is explained in part by the prevalence of plastics and artificial, chemical-based products in everything from diapers to computers — all of which when burned produce highly dangerous smoke and gases.

David Browne, the East Hampton Town fire marshal, issued his annual Fire Prevention Week message the other day. He advised residents to check the home and office for places where fire could start, to test fire alarms, and figure out at least two ways to get out of every room. Other advice for the home includes recognizing risky heating sources and cooking safely. Tip sheets are available at nfpa.org. They are well worth a look.