Quick-thinking employees help prevent fire

ALPENA – Tuesday morning the employees at Olivet Bookstore in Alpena smelled what thought was smoke and sensed something out of the ordinary was taking place. As a result, the Alpena Fire Department was called to the scene to check the building for fire.

As it turned out, the smell was coming from a furnace that needed attention and there was no fire, but Alpena Fire Chief Bill Forbush said the action taken by the employees needs to be commended because if a fire were to have happen downtown the results would not be good.

Forbush said three fire trucks were dispatched to the store on Second Avenue in the heart of downtown and the firefighters investigated the structure for smoke or fire. He said mutual aid was called in to the Alpena Township North Fire Department, which provided a pair of thermal imaging goggles to help look for hot spots.

In the end the furnace was the problem. Forbush said the employees did the right thing and hopes others will do the same if they believe there is even a slight chance of a fire downtown or anywhere else.

“They did exactly the right thing. By calling us quickly it allowed us to come and do our job and make sure everything was ok,” Forbush said. “It would be so easy to smell something and just think it will go away and in an area downtown when the buildings are either connected or close together you could have a raging fire in a hurry. These people absolutely need to be commended.”

Forbush said each of the buildings downtown have been studied and planning has been done in advance for a possible emergency in any of them. He said Fire Marshal Dave Robbins has detailed descriptions of the structures and having him on scene helps the firefigters to navigate through the building, locate its power sources and heating and cooling appliances.

Forbush said whenever a call comes through that there is a possible fire downtown he sends about everything available to him.

“The fire marshal has done all of the pre-plans, so we know where all of the switches and shutoffs are. We know the building’s layout and its makeup, so it is very instrumental having him on the scene,” Forbush said. “When there is a call like this one I want to have everyone of our resources and our partner’s resources available for our disposal.

“There might not have been a fire today, but there was still the smart actions of the workers, a quick response and the problem found in a hurry. It is those things that can help limit damage and save lives when there is a real emergency.”

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review … at www.thealpenanews.com