Sunday, March 13, 2011

Public Service Announcement

 This post is for the non Fire/EMS folks that may come across this page.
 It may seem fundamental and go without saying that the Fire, EMS, and Police services are created and maintained to handle and mitigate emergency situations. This is their mission. Now, it so happens that as our communities have these personnel and facilities in their midst, on occasion, they are called to handle situations that nobody no sane person would consider to be an Emergency.
 For the most part, these personnel take these calls for assistance with good humor and keep things in perspective. Their 'calling' is to help people after all.
 However, at some point, we need to draw the line between providing the occasional assistance and actually doing things for people because they don't want to do it themselves.
 The Fire Department, for example gets called when folks don't know who else to call. Cat's in trees, Water in the basement, and tree branches on roofs are good examples of these calls that we don't mind handling from time to time.
 HOWEVER, when you call us for the fifth time in a week to pump out your basement it is time that we gave you the facts of life in a straightforward manner:
 YOUR home is YOUR responsibility. When we arrive and pump you out, we leave you with some time tested advice on how to solve your problem. We expect you will do something to preserve your home. Calling us whenever it rains in NOT "a plan". We will pump you out and leave. After we are gone, you still have some water on the floor you need to deal with. You also have the water damage which remains as well as the propagation of mold and mildew which will create a very unhealthy environment for your family. You may need to get your heating and water system serviced if the water came up too high. You may have foundation damage, you may have to look at what caused the problem in the first place and deal with that issue. In any event, calling the Fire Department every time it rains is NOT A PLAN.
 Before we go further let me point out that we fully understand that this stuff happens from time to time and we understand helping out a homeowner that has a system in place to handle the water but this particular storm has overloaded the system that has worked well for 15 years. We get that, and we are there for you when you need us.
 However, if you call us every spring for the heavy rains and melting snow pack that YOU KNOW WE WILL GET EVERY YEAR, then you are not taking care of your home, we are. That's not what we are in business for. We very quickly lose our cheerful demeanor when you call us at 3am and we arrive to find you in your fuzzy slippers drinking a fresh cup of coffee while you tell us that you got up to pee and checked the basement and decided it was (Yawn) "time to let you pump it so I could get off to work on time in the morning."  It may surprise you to know that those of us who are volunteers also have to get to work in a couple of hours. If we arrive at work late, our employers are usually not pleased that we are half awake because we have been out all night pumping basements. (By the way, if it's the third time you've called us to do your work in the wee hours, you just might want to think about putting on a pot of coffee for my crew and providing a place for them to stand that is not out in the pouring rain. It's just a polite thing to do.)
 Final Point: If you call us, please be clear that we will arrive and decide what we can and cannot do for you. We did not come to your home to accept and follow orders from you. You called us to help you, we will do that in a way that ensures our safety and yours as a first concern. We will not do things we are not trained and equipped to do. We are not your contractor, your heating service company, or your personal source of labor for unpleasant tasks. So when we arrive, we make the decisions. This is not negotiable. Sometimes that means we discover a hazardous situation that requires you to vacate the house. You MAY NOT, at that point, decide that you don't want us there. We are responsible because you called us. If you want to debate this point, please hold that thought while I have a State Trooper respond to your home. He or she will be much more interested in listening to your complaint, trust me.
 That is all, have a nice day.

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