Woof Wood: What’s Your Prayer Request?

Don’t pray because you want something, pray because you’re thankful for everything you have ~ 

Last week we had a chimney fire. It was stupidity on our part because we trusted our landlord who told us that the chimney was fine at the beginning of the season. We had asked for someone to come and check it out – a professional chimney sweeper. But with the economy the way it is, everyone tries to save a buck and do things themselves if they think they can get by with it. Trusting yourself to handle some of these projects is dangerous and not a good idea.

We were ignorant to think that the non-fire rated caulking that the landlord put in between the bricks where the mortar was crumbling would be a sufficient repair for the one hundred plus year old chimney. We also believed him when he told us the chimney looked fine and was clean of creosote. Unbeknownst to us, it was an accident waiting to happen.

Fortunately I was home when the fire started. Actually I started a fire in the wood stove to warm it up for that evening and after about an hour, I started smelling something hotter than usual. I didn’t open the stove door because I thought it would give the fire more oxygen and therefore burn hotter, but I did close the damper tight. I noticed the bricks behind the wood stove were getting hotter and hotter. After conversing with my Tall Cool One and the landlady, I decided it would be in my best interest to call the fire department.

I have had a little experience with chimney fires and knew what to expect from firemen personnel and protocol for the fire (or so I thought). I will say I was impressed that it only took seven to eight minutes for the first truck to arrive at our house. There have been accidents on the highway right out front and it takes a good 45 minutes or a lot longer for a state trooper or county sheriff to show up on the scene after calling for police.

There is a fire department across the street but they were doing mandatory training so the one five miles down the road answered the call. Otherwise they would have been here in 2 minutes. It is good that they were training, because I believe men and women in these types of positions should constantly be preparing and learning all they can to better themselves at what they do.

I hate to point out the things that I think are inadequate with what the fire department did or didn’t do. I am very grateful for their quick response and for doing the job that they were trained to do. Depending on the region it appears to me, the training differs substantially. This statement is based on the comparison to a chimney fire in Maine almost 20 years ago and the chimney fire in South Carolina last week. I saw how the situation was handled in both places so I am entitled to that opinion.

At one point during the incident last week there were ten department personnel, three fire trucks, one ambulance and two other county vehicles at my residence. From my observation there were three men who did all of the work. The others were (for lack of a better word) inactive, at least at the task at hand. I understand the two EMT personnel with the ambulance being inactive, but they had to be on site incase something happened to the firemen doing the work. There wasn’t much they could do but be ready and wait.

In the hour and forty-five minutes or so that they were on site, most of the men stood around (my comment about being inactive) laughing, chewing tobacco and catching up on water cooler gossip. When they first arrived, one fireman attempted to get up in the attic. He was a good size boy and the attic is only accessible by a small crawl space hole through the ceiling of a back room. After several attempts at situating the ladder he was able to climb up and stick his head through the hole. He had to call a skinny fireman who could slide his upper torso up into the hole with a thermal imaging camera to make sure the temperature was at a reasonable level.

Once that was done, according to the woman who lectured me about my porch fixture, they had put out the fire in the wood stove. This was hysterical to watch. Apparently the south doesn’t work with wood stoves/wood heat that much because I had to explain how to open the door on the wood stove, what the draft/thermostat was and instruct them about the ash tray in the bottom of the stove. I am serious. It was funny, but not funny.

They took the burning log out of the stove and place it in a galvanized bucket that we use for cleaning out the ashes. I suggested they put the log in the fire pit out back, but they advised me that they had to put the fire out. Mind you this was a split oak log of approximately 16 inches that had been burning for a good two hours at this point in time. After they used the fire hose from the fire truck (hilarious) and watered the log down they used the bucket to fill with hot coals and ashes, which were conveniently dumped in the fire pit out back. (Not sure why they couldn’t put a smoldering log in the pit, but hot coals and ashes were okay to be discarded there—made no sense to me). Before I made the suggestion to pull the stove away from the wall to get to the chimney, they were going to put the ABC extinguisher through the wood stove, into the stove-pipe opening and down into the chimney to suppress the fire. (Crazy!)

I requested the report that was filed by the fire department. It is public knowledge and anyone can request them. It is stated in the report that the chimney bombs they put down the chimney didn’t affect the fire at all. Big surprise there, maybe it would be a good time to research and find out why they didn’t have any affect in order to prepare for next time? The report doesn’t mention how many engines or personnel were present on the scene. I would think this would be mandatory to know how many people responded to a situation such as this. Also it makes no mention about the woman who went into every room in my house checking out every room and also gave me a lecture about a decoration on the porch.

There were a couple of discrepancies I noticed but  I am not in that position to judge what goes in the report. Where it mentions fire detectors, it is marked as unknown. Apparently all those people coming through the house, at least one of them wasn’t observant enough to notice one or two (we have five in the 1,000 square foot house) of the fire detectors. Also the fire was not put out before the units cleared the scene. In Maine that was mandatory… fire must be out prior to clearing units from a property.

Regardless of how the fire department did their job, the fire went out completely two or three days later. The old stove was removed from the living room that night and praise God, the house did not burn down. Also no one was injured. A professional chimney sweeper came the next day, and found that the chimney was still actively burning, but was beyond repair anyways, so there was no point in cleaning it. He informed us it was unsafe to use. He worked up an estimate for the landlady to have a new chimney and wood stove replacement.

When things go wrong people send out prayer requests. I see it all the time. Always when things go wrong but hardly ever when things go right. I was thinking about that and how my prayer would go if I were to send one out. It could be one of many requests. I’m not going to do that because prayer is not a grocery list or a wish list. Too many of today’s Christian people treat it as such. When we pray we are to always rejoice, pray without ceasing and give thanks. God knows what we need. It’s not about what we want. He knows what we are able to handle and what we can endure. I don’t really know what is in store for us. I am hoping that by the time winter rolls around next year something has changed. That was our main source of heat. I will pray and ask for others to pray for God’s will to be done in our lives. Pray for thanksgiving because our situation could have been so much worse than it was. Apparently or so I was told, we live in a “woof – wood” house. If it catches on fire, it goes “WOOF”! I pray for God’s will to be done in our lives and I hope you join me in that prayer for your lives as well.

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