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Fire News in Focus
by Adam K. Thiel

The Conn. Christmas Day tragedy: Lessons to learn

Let's all resolve to keep fighting for adequate resources and attention to help proactively protect our citizens from the ravages of uncontrolled fires

By Adam K. Thiel

Editor's note: A Christmas Day fire that killed three children and their grandparents has left a community reeling. Let's learn from tragedies such as these.

This tragic story, one of (too) many incidents affecting firefighters and civilians across the United States this December, underscores the sad fact that — despite great progress in fire prevention and suppression over the years — fatal fires still strike people in all communities, at any age, of any socioeconomic status, and on any day and time.

Perhaps like many firefighters, I'm a bit superstitious, as I always worry about holidays and the potential for a tragedy like this one to strike my community; I'm sure you all join me in extending our thoughts and prayers to those involved.

Despite the obviously valiant efforts by family members and responding firefighters to rescue the trapped occupants, it appears this fire (like so many others) spread too fast for suppression to be a realistic option. That's not to say the Stamford Fire Department's response wasn't necessary and appropriate, clearly it was.

While the fire cause/origin and the status of smoke alarms in the home are still unconfirmed, the terrible outcome of this Christmas morning blaze reinforces the need for the fire service to continue emphasizing, along with our commitment to maintaining safe and effective firefighting forces, the importance of fire prevention and life safety education for every community.

As we prepare for the new year, let's all resolve to keep fighting for adequate resources and attention to help proactively protect our citizens from the ravages of uncontrolled fires.

Stay safe!

About the author

With more than two decades in the field, Chief Adam K. Thiel FireRescue1's editorial advisor is an active fire chief in the National Capital Region and a former state fire director for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Chief Thiel's operational experience includes serving with distinction in four states as a chief officer, incident commander, company officer, hazardous materials team leader, paramedic, technical rescuer, structural/wildland firefighter and rescue diver. He also directly participated in response and recovery efforts for several major disasters including the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Tropical Storm Gaston and Hurricane Isabel.

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