Dec. 14–When in doubt, call the fire department.
Even when the flaming Hot Pocket has been extinguished.
At 2:47 p.m. Tuesday, a 911 call sent Bloomington firefighters to a house in the 700 block of Parkway Drive. A woman reported that a Hot Pocket turnover had caught fire while being cooked in a microwave oven. The fire was out, she told a dispatcher, but the house had filled with smoke.
Fire calls can be dispatched in several ways, from a report of an odor of smoke to a fully involved blaze. In this case, since the call came from a residence and there had been an actual fire, it was coded as a structure fire. So the fire department sent its full contingent of responders: two fire engines, a rescue truck, a ladder engine and a battalion chief in a sport-utility vehicle to oversee the scene.
“The call came in as a Hot Pocket on fire, and even though she said it was out, there had been a fire,” said Sgt. Kyle Koons from the Bloomington Fire Department. “We would rather be prepared, and that first truck that arrives can let the rest know if they should keep coming. You can’t second guess. It’s better to be sent and not be needed than to be needed and not be sent.”
The first firetruck arrived five minutes after the 911 call. Firefighters assessed the scene and then, a minute later, notified the other units to disregard. The snack fire was out, the situation under control. At 3:24 p.m., that truck departed after the smoke had cleared and the microwave had been checked.
Koons was on a fire engine bound for the Parkway Drive fire, “but we got turned around before we ever got there,” which is often the case. He suggested people use their best judgment and not take chances with their safety.
Fire department Chief Jason Moore has been working on a study examining expenses related to fire and rescue calls. He said it costs about $1,200 to run a large firetruck for an hour, which includes equipment, fuel and personnel. An aerial truck with a tall ladder costs about $1,500 an hour. Rescue trucks cost $800 per hour, and SUV-type vehicles cost around $250 an hour.
“Each fire costs approximately $4,000 to $6,000 an hour,” he said, estimating the cost of responding to Tuesday’s Hot Pocket fire at $200 to $500.
Copyright 2016 – Herald-Times, Bloomington, Ind.