I just experienced one of those things that leaves you in total awe of how some people think. Now I do not know about you but hate people that can not think for themselves and parrot a company policy as their reason for not thinking. Even though most people do not think so even the military wants its enlisted folks to think and operate with independence when it is needed. Not so the managers of such stores as Big Lot’s. Let me set this up for you.
The wife wanted to run down to the store for some stuff she forgot to pick up shopping. I wanted to stop at Big Lot’s for a couple of items they carry that are close to two bucks cheaper than anywhere else so I rode along with her. We got our items and were standing at the check out when someone came in the store stating that a car was on fire in the parking lot. The car on fire was parked up by the front of the building, maybe eight feet away at most.
Some facts where quickly established, i.e. the people in the car were out and safe and 9-11 had been called. The cashier looked out the window and came back and grabbed the microphone and announced that a red car next to the one on fire should be moved. A couple minutes later an older woman came running up and looked to see if it was her red car. It was. She started screaming at the cashier for not making the announcement right away. Well lady, the cashier made it as soon as she discovered the problem. Older Woman ran out and jumped in her car and moved it, right in front of the door to the store. Mind you she could have moved it out away from the danger zone but she decided that she needed to park right by the door for her quick escape later? Older Woman then came running back in the store bitching like crazy she had left her purse in the store and it was probably stolen. I told her we had been watching it for her and it was safe.
While Older Woman was moving her car someone asked the store manager for a fire extinguisher. Store mangers response was, “It is against store policy to use fire extinguishers.”
WTF! I couldn’t believe my ears. A guy stepped up and said he was a fireman and if they would give him one he would put out the fire. Again the policy was stated.
Like I said, I hate that kind of mentality. I stated out loud to no one in particular but really for the manager, “It cost less than $20 to fill an extinguisher and hundreds of dollars to repair smoke and fire damage.”
Some young kid walked up and handed the fireman an extinguisher. The manager started to say no but stopped and the fireman walked out with it. Just as he reached the door a loud boom was heard from the car and the flames leaped higher.
By this time my wife and I had managed to get everything checked out and paid for so we got out of there. By this time most people in the store had run up to the front and when they heard the explosion they bolted for the parking lot and were leaving. The Fire Department was arriving as the wife and I left.
Had quick action been taken more than likely the car fire would have been minimal and surely no explosion would have occurred. The explosion was not large in terms of throwing fire and debris around, but enough to make the fireman stop approaching and using the extinguisher.
Several years ago my oldest son was driving his brother’s truck and it caught on fire after some road debris was picked up when he drove over it and caused something to spark under the hood. He whipped the truck into a parking lot, sprinted into the building and grabbed an extinguisher and went out and put out the fire. He did not ask if it was policy or not, he acted and saved the truck. I stopped the next day to pay them for the use of it and they waved us off stating they were glad it was there and it helped. That is how someone should react to an emergency. They did not worry about policy but rather results. They were genuinely pleased that my son and the truck were safe.
Part of my job at work is to check the fire extinguishers monthly and hold the safety drills. Maybe because of that I am closer to the value of having those items handy. In my life I have used fire extinguishers several times to put out a small fire that was soon to be a big out of control fire. Those things save lives and property.
As an aside I hope that your preps include a good quality fire extinguisher and not one of those Kidde ones that has plastic values. I bought good metal reconditioned ones from the company that does ours at work. Like I said earlier, a $20 refill is a lot cheaper than building a new home. To steal the tag line from Riverwalker, “Got fire extinguishers?”