Fire Yenta 7/26/02

By Diane Feldman, Managing Editor

A true story from the International Association of Arson Investigators (IAAI): A North Carolina man bought expensive cigars and insured them against fire. He put in a claim that they were destroyed in a series of “small fires.” The insurance company refused to pay, citing the obvious–that he had smoked them. He sued and won. The judge upheld the policy stating that they were insured against fire no matter what type or how big or small. They paid out $15K. After he cashed the check, they had him arrested for 24 counts of arson. His own testimony was used against him as he “intentionally set the fires.” He was jailed for 24 months and fined $24,000.

Our own technical editor Glenn Corbett doesn’t reserve his pen only for Fire Engineering. His recent “Viewpoint” in Engineering News Record discussing the World Trade Center disaster investigation is sure to raise a few hackles …

The case of the lefthanded fire extinguisher: A chemistry lab supervisor/chemical safety officer at a midwestern chiropractic college arranged to have the local fire department conduct annual fire extinguisher training for the college staff. On the assigned day, a crowd of administrative assistants, secretaries, and other college staff members gathered around fire department members as they demonstrated the how-to’s of using a
portable fire extinguisher. Each staffer was given a chance to actually extinguish a small fire in a pan. One secretary came bouncing up to one of the firefighters, high heels clicking, long red fingernails flashing, and tight skirt hobbling her walk. “Do you have a lefthanded fire extinguisher?” she asked him. Without missing a beat, he looked at her and replied, “Yes Ma’am!” and deftly removed the pin from the right side of the fire extinguisher handle and reinserted it on the left side of the handle!

Visit to see what you missed at the first annual Fire Engineering Courage and Valor Foundation Dinner. Included in the Web site’s coverage are memorable quotes from the evening’s speakers and photos of some of your friends (including the Fire Yenta with Fire Guru Tom Brennan) at the cocktail hour.

According to the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), New York City Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta, the IAFF, and IAFF local unions representing New York City firefighters and fire officers are planning a memorial service on October 12, 2002, at Madison Square Garden to honor the 343 FDNY members who lost their lives at the World Trade Center. The ceremony will also honor seven other FDNY members killed in the line of duty since the last memorial service (in October 2000). Other such memorials have been planned before and have generated nationwide enthusiasm and desire to attend-only to be cancelled–so keep checking for the latest on this service.

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