To the editor:
On May 7, a call was received at the central Fire Dispatch. The caller reported a fire at 619 No. Catherine Circle. Two engines, one ladder truck, and a battalion chief were dispatched.Within moments after their arrival, two firefighters, hauling 100 pounds of protective gear and firefighting equipment each, entered an atmosphere so dark with acrid toxic smoke that they could not see their hands in front of their faces.
They pushed through a hallway so hot that one of them received second degree burns on the tips of his ears (the only spot not directly covered by his protective clothing). They entered the room on fire and extinguished the blaze. They put their lives on the line to protect the property of the citizens of this community.
Three households and much of a fourth were saved. Incalculable suffering was avoided. The destruction was limited to one room and a hallway.
If they had not attacked the fire so aggressively, it could easily have spread throughout the apartment and into the other three apartments in the building. Minutes can mean the difference between having one room destroyed and an entire apartment building leveled.
But the most extraordinary fact about this fire was that it was not even interesting enough to make the back page of both major newspapers of this city. And in the one paragraph of coverage it did receive, the firefighter injured and sent to the University Hospital for treatment was not mentioned at all.
Fighting fire is a very scary business. We do it, and we do it gladly. We know that we have the training and the equipment at hand ready to help people in need, and to protect lives and property. This is our job, public service. All we ask is a little recognition and adequate compensation.
Wm. Dorrell Henderson
Salt Lake City Fire Dept.