When the Gong Rings
A Fire History of Charleston, Illinois
187.  FIRE LOG 1973        
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Also read: page 178,   page 179,   page 180,   page 181,   page 182,   page 183,   page 184,   page 185,   page 186,   page 188,   page 189


       MANY CHARLESTON RESIDENTS were incensed and indignant over the situation Monday evening in which city firemen and their equipment sat idly by while a blaze destroyed a home within 50 feet of the city limits.

    There is no doubt that the Charleston Fire Department abided by the letter of the ordinance, which says that its' services and equipment "shall be confined to the area within the limits of the Municipal Corporation" except for certain conditions, which did not pertain Monday.

    The Times-Courier headline, which described the circumstances with stark accuracy, were almost inflammatory in their description of reality. They almost conjured the idea of firemen gleefully looking on when, of course, the firemen felt deep sympathy and frustration but were observing the letter of the law, which provides for no deviations.  This could have been averted

“FOR HUMANE REASONS" couldn't the firemen have done something? ''At least  have averted  their hand equipment which perhaps could have saved the house" available to  the non-firemen present? people asked.  The letter of the law answers in the negative. The firemen could have played some water on the house while they were within the corporate limits of the city, but this, too, would have been a violation.  What recourse would a Charleston family have if a fire damaged its home while firemen were answering a call beyond the city limits, contrary to the ordinance?  Boundaries are peculiar but explicit lines, although sometimes invisible.

      A family which acquires a home outside the city limits does so knowing that in achieving a saving in taxes it forfeits some Protective services. At the same time the family spends huge amounts of money in town with local businesses.  The house which was destroyed Monday night most of us can be to pass over it by observing that “it was ust one of those things.”

      Humanitarian considerations should suggest that city officials review the event and consider whether there are alternatives which could prevent a recurrence of this week’s, tragedy was contiguous to the city limits and presumably could have been annexed without difficulty.

     OTHER QUESTIONS arise in approving trips by a fire not  250? Or 500? Or 1,500? What’s the limit? What would happen to Charleston’s fire insurance rates if the limits of fire protection went beyond the corporate limits? They’d likely be higher. Would the insurance rates of those outside   the limits be reduced — at city residents’ expense — if city fire services were extended?  Could a provision be made for on-the-spot exceptions for a fee? Was the present ordinance adopted when the city had fewer fire engines and  less equipment? If so, should there now be leniency in answering calls outside the city?  But the same old question arises: where does the line end?   If the department can go 50 feet outside the boundary, why (not more?)

    Charleston will soon have an additional fire station operating in the southwest part of the city.

    When it is in operation will it be possible for Charleston to modify the ordinance so that assistance could be given under circumstances in which help was denied Monday night?

    Public indignation will surely cool somewhat after considering 11 the facts. The dilemma arising out of Monday night’s fire has many more than just two horns. One has to be more cold blooded than most of us can be to pass over it by observing that “it was just one of those things.”  Humanitarian considerations should suggest that city officials    review the event and consider whether there are alternatives which could prevent a recurrence of this week’s, tragedy.


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