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Truck fire leads to sheepish public safety message

Kyra Hoggan
By Kyra Hoggan
August 20th, 2018

Ed. Note: I’m writing this in the first person to allow for a little bit of editorial latitude, because I found this both charming and great information to have, especially during fire season.

I posted a story about a truck fire this morning, in part applauding two civilians, Pastor Rachel McFaddin and retired Castlegar firefighter Tom Berisoff, for quick action attempting to control the flames until the fire department arrived (click here https://castlegarsource.com/news/truck-fire-sees-pastor-saving-more-souls#.W3s7bMIna1s for story).

Shortly after posting, I got a laughing and somewhat sheepish call from Berisoff himself (who, by the way, served as a firefighter for 33 years, 12 years as training instructor in Blueberry and six years with the Castlegar Fire Department).

“I don’t think you should be making me look like a hero, because here’s what happened,” he said. “My daughter Celina sent it to me (the Facebook information about the fire). It was just around the corner from my house, so I grabbed one of two big fire extinguishers from my shop .

“I went running over there, pulled the pin … and the gas exhausted out of the nozzle, but without any of the (fire-supressing) chemicals coming out.”

Berisoff explained that if extinguishers aren’t shaken regularly, the chemicals settle to the bottom and solidify, so the propellant can’t pick them up and force them out the nozzle.

He said Fire Chief Sam Lattanzio was the first firefighter on scene, and the Chief’s command vehicle rounded the corner just in time to see Berisoff throwing the extinguisher to the ground in frustration.

“It’s a little embarrassing, I should have known better. Duh,” Berisoff said, adding he called to make sure the Source wasn’t giving him false accolades, and to suggest, perhaps, that we might want to add a blurb to the story about the importance of extinguisher upkeep, particularly given the current climate.

“The extinguisher registered as green on the gauge, but I still should have known better,” he said. “You should shake your fire extinguisher at least twice a year, and if it’s in your vehicle, at least once a month.”

He recommends doing it every time Daylight Savings hits, and at the same time replacing the batteries in your smoke alarms.

While the truck owner’s (also a firefighter) loss should not be discounted, the situation had a reasonably happy ending – crews knocked the blaze down in eight minutes flat, and the public is being given excellent information about keeping their own homes and vehicles safe.

So (and this is why I chose a first-person narrative), while Berisoff says he’s not a hero, I (Kyra Hoggan, Editor) absolutely, wildly disagree.

Categories: General

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