From the Firehouse: April 2021

From the Firehouse
by Jack Halchak, Past Chief HFD

The Hurleyville Fire Department is always looking to recruit new members. You can stop in on any Monday evening at 7 p.m. to get an application or see what we are all about. If you don’t want to fight fire we can use fire police or work behind the scenes and support the front line fire fighters. We do more than just fight fire. We even provide all of your training and gear for free.
March has been a very busy month. There have been numerous structure fires in the county this month. The number of structure fires for the months of January and February of 2020 were 27 and for 2021 we had 47. This past weekend (3/20 and 3/21), there were four major structure fires. This was also the third time in recent weeks that there were two major fires in the county going on at the same time.
Unfortunately one of these fires was one of our own: Ralph LaVecchia, a Past Chief of the Woodbourne Fire Department lost his home to a fire. Ralph and his son lost everything.
So what do you do after a fire?
If your home was destroyed by the fire a number of tasks will have happened during the course of the fire. The Chief may have called for fire investigators, water department, electric company and code enforcement.
The water needs to be turned off and the electric meter needs to be pulled. This is all going on at some point during the fire.
You need to call your insurance company. Your insurance company will probably do its own investigation. It might include getting fire reports from the fire department and, if the Sullivan County Bureau of Fire Fire Investigator were called, a copy of their report. These repots must be requested through a FOIL
You will need to contact your utility companies and discontinue your services.
The Red Cross may have been called to assist you with some immediate help in housing and getting some clothes.
Take care of your pets. Be aware that some hotel/motels will not allow pets.
Is there anything that can be salvaged? Take care of that as soon as possible.
How are your finances? You’ll still need to make mortgage payments even if your home is destroyed. You’ll also need to continue any car payments and replace any credit or debit cards that may have been destroyed in the house fire.
If your house only had damage and cannot be inhabited you need to take a different route. If the power was shut off you need to drain your pipes so they do not freeze. getting a cleanup. Your insurance agent should also be able to help you secure your property and offer recommendations for cleaning up or restoring salvageable items.
This step is very important: Take care of your family’s mental health. Disasters can make it difficult to cope. This is particularly true of children. Be patient with yourself as you work through any stress caused by the fire. If you or others in your family are having difficulty coping seek help.
Now is the time to go over your insurance needs before a disaster occurs.
We are about to pass the mud season and move into the brush fire season. The New York state BURN BAN is in effect from March 16 thru May 14. There is no open burning during this time frame. One small glowing ember or a small piece of burning paper, a little wind and we have a brush fire.
Please use some common sense and be safe out there.