Where There is Smoke…

Where There is Smoke…


Napoleon and I stood over a two-foot deep crater in the snow. It was still smoldering, more than twelve hours after the incident. I laughed, but knew it was really not funny.

It all began with a house-sitting gig in a three story building. I lived alone with Napoleon, my gorgeous, but neurotic Dalmatian and two cats. Our main source of heat was a wood stove on the lower level of the dwelling. I had little experience with such things, but was careful to keep it safe, or so I thought. Energy, in all its forms, is a tricky, powerful thing. It has the ability to transform its surroundings in an instant, often when we are not looking.

Someone had fashioned a nice reclining chair on wheels out of a car seat. This was placed near the wood stove and it was my favorite place to read and sip tea in the morning, with Napoleon on my lap. I had placed an old cushion on this chair to make it more comfortable.

One evening, Napoleon came running upstairs as I prepared to retire to bed. He was quite agitated. I ignored him, hoping he would settle down. He got my attention, however, because he was clearly asking me to come downstairs.

What a smart pup! Half way down the stairs, I walked into toxic, thick, bluish smog. I held my breath and walked on, cautiously. It appears Napoleon had played with the cushion and pushed it against the very hot stove. Every bit of suspicious material it was made of was on fire, but the shell was not burning, yet. I turned on the nearby faucet, carefully lifted the cushion and placed it in the sink. It continued smoldering and releasing toxic smoke. I had to get it out of there.

Dalmatians’ association with firemen dates back to the early 18th century. At that time, they often tagged along aboard horse-drawn fire equipment since they bonded particularly well with horses. For this reason, they were known as “coach dogs”. Essentially, their role was to guard the equipment and protect the horses from theft while at the fire house or while men were busy extinguishing fires.

Today, we are more concerned with guarding our homes and businesses from fire than guarding the equipment itself. Strict fire and building codes are in place, and enforced. If you think about it, most were probably designed based on some tragedy somewhere. The costs of bringing a dwelling up to code can be high, but certainly insignificantly so when compared to the value of lives saved.

There was not a single smoke detector in the dwelling where I house-sat. Had my crazy pup been too worried about upsetting me and chosen to not seek my assistance, I dare not imagine what would have become of the property placed in my care, my cats and myself.

Back to our smoldering, toxic pillow… I brought it several yards away from the building and from any shrub or tree and buried it in deep snow. Even Napoleon watched in disbelieve when we found a fistful of materials still smoldering the next morning. I laughed… a laugh of relief.


Please visit the following Fire Protection/Prevention Links

U.S. Fire Administration

National Fire Protection Association

Where to Install a Smoke Detector for Dummies

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