Saturday, November 19, 2011

A Little Neighborhood Excitement and a Note of Thanks

POTTSTOWN -- A fire truck is backing down my street as I write this.

It's about 5:30 p.m. on a Saturday and representatives of Pottstown's fire companies are headed back to their respective stations having answered the call of a potential house fire.

Thankfully, it turns out it was actually a malfunctioning dryer, a fairly common occurrence that can, left unattended, nonetheless end badly.

But fires like that don't stand much chance here in Pottstown. With four companies, manned by a mix of paid drivers and volunteers, such fires are routinely  knocked down so fast, The Mercury's ever-enthusiastic photographers often arrive only to find there are no flames to photograph.

But we don't begrudge them their effectiveness.

Sure, photos of homes on fire are dramatic and, let's face it, they sell newspapers. But in the end, it's better that Goodwill, the Phillies, Empire and North End are so johnny-on-the-spot. Such speed saves lives, homes and one's sense of security.

It's a comforting thing to know how fast help can be had when trouble comes.

And as I ambled down my street, camera in hand, to take the photos you see here, I realized I know many of the people gathered there in bulky jackets, awkward helmets and equipment that looks part medieval, part Star Trek

There's Zack Moore, a quiet young man whose family shares my alley and who likes country music and working on his two vehicles.

But luckily for my neighborhood, he also likes running with one of the fire companies so he was among the first to arrive, gear on hand, ready to do what he could.

He started with the youth corps and, if we're lucky, he'll stick with it, devoting hours and hours to training for which he will never get paid. All to have the privilege of running into a burning building.

Then I saw Goodwill's Terry Bechtel, a friendly fellow who took a moment to say hello and shake my hand having determined there was not much risk to the house. Nearby, my chagrined neighbor was saying "I told them not to being all their equipment..."

But that's what they've been trained to do, and that's why they are so effective and why, in case you didn't know it, your fire insurance costs less than in other places -- because of the response time of the Pottstown Fire Department.

And it occurred to me how much we owe these people.

Here they are, out on a dark night, (while a Penn State football game was being played no less) ready to do what's necessary at a moment's notice.

So thank you.

Luckily, this time, it was a minor incident, the kind that I know will not make the pages of my paper, where space is precious and we must daily make the cold calculation of what is important enough to warrant using some of it.

But because it wasn't important enough to be news does not mean its not important.

And sometimes, I think, you need to have a fire truck tear down your street the wrong way to remind you how much you are indebted to such volunteers, even if you'll never read about what they were doing there in the local paper.


  1. Evan, this is absolutely the best writing to be found anywhere this weekend. Terrific job.

    And yes, thank you firefighters, all across our area, for your vigilance.

    Joe Zlomek, Managing Editor
    The Sanatoga Post

  2. You are a regular on-man cheering section. Do you do birthday parties Joe?