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WNIJ Perspectives
Perspectives are commentaries produced by and for WNIJ listeners, from a panel of regular contributors and guests. You're invited to comment on or respond to any Perspective on our Facebook page or through Twitter (@wnijnews), in keeping with our Discussion Policy. If you would like to submit your own Perspective for consideration, send us a script that will run about 90 seconds when read -- that's about 250 words -- and email it to NPR@niu.edu, with "Perspectives" in the subject line.

Perspective: Fire Drill

Chris Fink

Don’t tell the insurance man, but last week I started a chimney fire, my first ever. I know enough not to walk away from the fire in the process of building it, but for some reason I did anyway. When I ambled back to the wood stove, I saw that the stove door was cracked, and the stovepipe was hemorrhaging smoke. Then I heard roaring coming from the chimney. The stovepipe thermometer read zero. How could that be? In the middle of a fire cycle, the thermometer might read 500 degrees. It only goes to 1,000. That’s when I realized the needle was buried.

Iris! I yelled. Fire drill! Get your shoes on. Iris was in the middle of her 4th grade zoom Spanish class with Senora Briz. Waiting for my house to burn down, I was oddly calm. I closed the stove damper, but the needle stayed buried as the chimney party raged. I shooed Iris outside and then fished for the fire extinguisher under the sink, where I had put it when I bought it ten years ago. To my surprise, the arrow on the gauge read “completo.” Full!

There is a product that you can use to put out a chimney fire, but a fire extinguisher, even completo, isn’t the one. It wouldn’t take long for the 1,200 degree flue gas to ignite my ceiling. I walked outside with the red extinguisher to see if the chimney was belching flames from anywhere. It was not.

Back inside, I saw that the thermometer read 800 degrees. The chimney party was petering out. I put my fingers to my neck to check my pulse. After a few minutes I called, Iris! The fire drill was over.

I’m Chris Fink and that’s my perspective.

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