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Pop Tarts Lead to Insights

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August 22, 2010 by wcobserver

By Terry Ropp

You may have noticed how often I poke fun at my husband. It is time for me to fess up and tell on myself.

When we first moved here, we went to introduce ourselves to the Strickler Fire Department and let them know we had a burglar/fire alarm system installed. They were most cordial. Little did I know I was to become a nuisance.

I love cinnamon and brown sugar Pop Tarts, and sometimes I burn them. I set off the fire alarm at school in Illinois twice during my thirty-odd year career: once for, you guessed it, a Pop Tart and once for putting a cup with metal trim in a microwave. The incidents were many years apart and I quickly admitted my error. The second time I even wore a big fire alarm around my neck at school for two days as penance after receiving it as a “gift” from a friend. I took the opportunity to model for my students the importance of owning up when you do something wrong.

Sure enough, soon after we moved into our new house, I burnt Pop Tarts…twice. Of course the alarm went off, and, to my dismay, I discovered I didn’t know how to cancel the stupid thing. That meant the firemen started for the station before I could fix the problem. I was both embarrassed and terribly sorry so I went to their next meeting to apologize. I understood how serious my lack of forethought was. They seemed truly appreciative for both my apology and assurance that I now knew how to cancel an unnecessary alarm. However, I did not promise I would never burn Pop Tarts again although I have subsequently learned the proper setting on my toaster.

At the time I was rather shocked to learn that others had had nuisance calls like mine and thought they were no big deal. Consequently I went to their last meeting to see what I might be able to say in this column to help them.

Fire services are difficult and dangerous everywhere, but even more so in the more rural areas where water and manpower are problems and where forest and homes interface. Because one of the biggest concerns is wildfires, the Strickler department became a member of Firewise, an Arkansas initiative to help residents proactively address wildfire issues such as clogged gutters and debris. The department even has leaf blowers available for resident use as part of the effort to keep the community safe.  More specific information will be available at the fundraising chicken dinner the third Saturday in October and at www.arkansasfirewise.com. Other areas of concern are having addresses on both sides of mailboxes at the roadside and being aware of the danger of ignored ice storm debris.

When I moved here, I was amazed by the quality of the men and equipment we in the outlying areas have protecting us. I wonder how it all started.

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