A wake-up call for western Northampton?
This story began for me about six weeks ago when I ran into Garson Fields, owner of Berkshire Electrical Cable, coming out of Foster Farrar. “Did you hear about that fire up on Shepherds Hollow?” he says, “Did you hear that the house burnt to the ground, and the fire department never pumped from the swimming pool in back of the house which had 40,000 gallons of water in it!”
That seemed to be a good story and I went out, took a picture and posted a small story, then Garson emailed me and told me that he and City Council President Jim Dostal had sat down with the Chief and had been shown a picture of the fire taken when the apparatus first arrived, listened to the 911 tapes, and there was no way that the building could have been saved. So I pulled the story, and chased the Chief around. Supposedly he would be glad to talk to me, but it wasn’t until about a week later that I managed to talk to him. Chief Brian Duggan never seems to get to work before 9:30 or 10:30 am, and he takes days off. Most department heads in Northampton are there every working day, but not the Fire Chief, who also is running a consulting service for other departments around the state. OK, finally we meet and talk and he shows me the above photograph, which he says was taken when the apparatus just arrived. This is quite a fire. It looks as if the building was about to collapse. There would be no way that a fire chief would order his men to run up the road next to the house and risk their lives to get access to the water in the swimming pool. l had called the Jazabs and no one was returning phone calls. I look at the photograph and listen to the 911 tapes and think the department’s story is credible. There is no way, said the Chief, that any lawyer in town is going to take this case. The cause was smoking, aggravated by storage of flammables, the family never called fire apparatus until it was too late. This is the official version, and for awhile I bought into it.
To read on select this.
Read the whole story here.