So I had the pleasure the other day of putting out a fire in our kitchen.
I was in the living room with my son and my mother-in-law and Jenna had gone to the kitchen to make some tea. I heard her say, calmly, “wow I think this thing is catching on fire.” I didn’t even look to see what was going on.
A few seconds later, in a much different tone of voice, I hear “FLAMES! OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD!”
That tends to get your attention. I didn’t even look over, walked to the pantry, got the fire extinguisher, moved to the stove and saw flames curling up from the teapot nearly reaching the microwave mounted a couple feet above. I checked to make sure the stove was off (Jenna had already turned it off), pulled the pin, pointed the nozzle at the burner, and fired one quick shot which put the fire out.
My total time commitment to this was maybe 10 seconds.
We’re still not sure exactly how this happened, but my guess is that the outer shell of the teapot separated somehow and that there must have been an insulation of some kind (or some other flammable material) that caught fire when it was on the stove. My wife cleaned it up a little and here’s what it looked like afterwards. It’s hard to see in the picture, but the bottom is burnt black now and you can see the residue of the extinguisher.
I have friends who do this kind of thing for a living, only they deal with serious fires – not a few flames shooting out from under a teapot. As always, my hat is off to them. But this is a reminder that all of us are the First Responder; we’re already there! My safety is my responsibility, and the more of these issues I can take care of myself, the stronger we are as a family and the less burden we’re placing on the true firefighting professionals that we count on for the serious jobs.
Some days I fear that we’re forgetting how to be adults. Hopefully we can turn around that trend by taking responsibility for our own safety and getting some training which may one day save our lives (like how to use a fire extinguisher; by the way, the Community Emergency Response Team training class was where I got mine – there’s likely a free class near you as well).
And yes, my wife is using this as the perfect excuse to get a brand new, expensive, teapot. And I’m totally ok with that.