A true three-alarm fire hit Richfield last week as an inferno consumed a considerable portion of a local business.
While it’s discouraging to see a business, or indeed any property, destroyed, there was an encouraging thing that took place.
As volunteer firefighters from three different communities were dispatched, everyone fell into the place they needed in order to put the fire out and protect other structures from being harmed. Several times during the fire volunteers spoke the phrase, “What do you need chief?”
Of course several of the firefighters were on the front line, trying to stop the flames. Men driving water trucks were put to task shuttling water to the scene to supplement hydrants that were taxed due to the demands of the fire. Others helped change air bottles on the backs of their comrades.
At the fire station, volunteers helped fill expended air bottles, which were taken back to the scene to be used in the effort.
It wasn’t just firefighters either, as search and rescue volunteers helped direct traffic. Police officers also worked to make sure there was access to hydrants. Emergency medical technicians stayed on scene to provide support if needed.
When it came down to it, the lines between communities fell to the wayside as people showed up eager to do their part to help.
In the end, no one was injured in the fire, which is the most important thing. The business, Dogberry Collections, had a setback, but has the talent, drive and community support to bounce back.
While the teamwork was inspiring, one thing that was disconcerting was the number of onlookers who pushed their way onto the scene to get a better look. Some were using the fire as chance to fill their social media feeds, while others just wanted a better look.
Curiosity can lead to dangerous situations. The southeast quadrant of Richfield became congested with vehicles filled with people who were trying to get a better view. This made for a potentially dangerous situation as those driving emergency vehicles were trying to respond.
While it’s a natural impulse to want to see what’s going on, it’s not a good idea for the general public to head down to an emergency scene. Unless someone has legitimate business at the site of an emergency, they should avoid it. The smoke from a fire may be toxic. The chemicals spilled from an accident may be deadly. The car that’s slowing down to get a good look could be blocking an ambulance responding to people for whom every second is critical.
One of the best things the public can do during an emergency is stay out of the way so that responders can do their jobs.