Fire Storm Stupidity

One of the things that makes me mad almost every disaster is the people who stupidly (and selfishly) decide to remain when danger is imminent.

This bravado causes problems in a number of ways:

  • It puts rescue personnel at additional risk,
  • pulls rescue attention away from other pressing matters and structures,
  • and if they are seriously injured or die–they obviously have not thought about their families.

In addition to the actual fire, in addition to the insane heat, The smoke and lack of air quality pose serious danger.

And stuff is stuff…

This fire news story featured the issue yesterday:

…The water offered scant protection. The men, aged 53 and 40, sustained second and third-degree burns on their faces, arms and legs from the fire and had to be rescued one at a time by a medivac helicopter after a regular helicopter could not get to the home because of the flames. They were in stable condition Tuesday.

“It was an extraordinarily difficult rescue,” said Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Steve Whitmore. “It took about 45 minutes and put everybody’s lives at risk. If there is a mandatory evacuation order, it means you are in danger right now and get out.”

The phenomenon of people refusing to leave their homes arises during virtually every disaster. It has become such an issue in Texas, which has seen its share of hurricane holdouts, that a law went into effect Tuesday giving police the power to arrest residents who refuse to heed a mandatory order.

In California, authorities cannot force residents to leave against their will, only emphasize that they stay at their own risk, said Whitmore.

“It’s a combination of bravado, people who won’t listen to authority and those who seek adventure,” said Irwin Redlener, director of Columbia University’s National Center for Disaster Preparedness. “It crosses the line from bravado to stupidity.”

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This entry was posted on Thursday, September 3rd, 2009 and is filed under Mountain Lake Resort.

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2 Responses to “Fire Storm Stupidity

  • 1
    September 4th, 2009 08:54

    Well, I’ll have to partially dis-agree on this one. It is natural and expected for Americans to want to and attempt to protect what is theirs. In addition, staying to actively protect your home could be beneficial to more than just the individual in some cases. Most homes in densely built-up areas are burned by the fire spreading via flying embers rather than the fire front proper. This then extends the fire further into the neighborhood by the leap-frog method. These small ember fires are easy to extinguish if someone is actually there to do it. If at most one person stood by each home to do it, this alone would save many more homes than the hit or miss, luck of the draw method the current fire fighting doctrine achieves.

  • 2
    GG (Gossip Girl)
    September 13th, 2009 09:53

    You are right I’ll never agree with you on this one. I think there is absolutely no reason to put others in danger and selfish to divert rescue personnel from their main objective. Insurance and preparation go a long way to mitigating some of the issues. Having worked in both post disaster rescue and pre-disaster planning I have to say that most people who show such bravado have never been in a firestorm and are sorely naive.