FIRE SMART: Good Samaritans

It is extremely special when you meet people who have no other motive for what they have done beyond another person just needed their help

In a time where it is common to hear excuses like, “I didn’t want to get involved,” “I was too busy,” “It was none of my business,” “ It is not my concern,” it is good for the heart to know that there are indeed people who don’t think that way.

People that are there to help when help is needed, who are not looking for recognition, but who just believe it is the right thing to do. Believe me, in the fire business you meet all kinds so it is extremely special when you meet people who have no other motive for what they have done beyond another person just needed their help.

I met two such women — Rebecca Jones and Bubbi Marinello — whose efforts and quick thinking are largely responsible for three people escaping alive and unhurt from a couple of devastating house fires. The two women noticed black smoke coming from a seniors’ development early one morning on their way to work and, rather than ignoring it, decided to investigate. What they found was a small fire on the side of one of the homes that was growing at an alarming rate.

It was early in the morning and there was no sign of anyone being awake so they took immediate action. Quickly, Jones banged on the front door of the house that was on fire notifying its occupant of the danger while Marinello called the fire department. The fire was soon rapidly spreading to a second house so Jones redirected her attention to that house and knocked on its front door alerting its occupants as well.

With the fire department now on its way, Marinello convinced the understandably reluctant elderly lady in the first house that her home was indeed on fire and needed to leave — right now. Once everyone was out safely, Jones and Marinello anticipated a possible problem with the remote entrance of the development and went out to the closest main street to make sure that the fire trucks were properly directed to the fire. It was only when the fire department had arrived and everyone was being looked after that Jones and Marinello realized they were late for work and needed to leave. Somewhat worried about their clothes smelling like smoke and their reception at work, they left satisfied that everyone was safe and looking forward to a long overdue first cup of coffee.

It took me a while to track these women down as part of my fire cause investigation. In fact, if it hadn’t been for one of the neighbours knowing how to contact them, I doubt if I would have ever heard their story. It is not that they weren’t willing to be involved any further but rather that they believed what they had done was over and they were getting on with their lives. When I finally caught up to them, they had no problem coming down to the firehall and describing the observations of what they saw on that fateful morning. Their compassion and concern was evident as they described their efforts to make sure everyone got out of the houses and their excitement as to how quickly the fire grew.

Finally, when it was all said and done, it was their willingness to help and the information they gave me that played a significant role in determining the cause of the fire.

Would I consider these two a couple of heroes? You bet. Rebecca Jones and Bubbi Marinello are truly a dynamic duo when it comes to helping someone in trouble. In this case they knew exactly what to do and didn’t hesitate in getting it done. There is no doubt in my mind that their efforts played a big part in keeping the situation from being a lot worse.

“We just wanted to get everyone out and get to work,” they told me, as if their actions were just part of another day. Another day perhaps but certainly a day that was made a whole lot better by two women who took it upon themselves to investigate something they thought just wasn’t right.

So, although they are not looking for any recognition, if you happen to know them or meet one of them sometime, I am sure a hardy high five with an enthusiastic “Way to go!” would be totally appropriate.

Lawrie Skolrood is a deputy fire chief with the Vernon Fire Department.