Rachael Herron writes novels, but she also spent 17 years manning the phones for emergency services. Her experiences there inspired her new suspense novel, but there are some things she’ll tell all of us that might help us understand the work of 911 dispatchers better.
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Why Fires Start
In what seems like a hopelessly classist overgeneralization, fires that destroy homes in low-income areas are often started by extension cords. Fires that destroy homes in high-income areas are often started by linseed oil rags (but are they’re frequently less devastating because they usually have in-home fire sprinkler systems). This startling disparity shocked me when I switched agencies from a poorer area to an incredibly wealthy city. Rich folks’ stuff doesn’t burn as much.
Pro-tip: Clothes dryers do start fires (and the two words “dryer fire” are fun to say on the radio). Once, as I advised a caller to exit the residence (for the love of God, always exit the residence! Don’t try any heroics!), I heard a bang. The caller screamed and then said, “Holy crap! My fire extinguisher just exploded! It put out the fire!” I’ve kept my fire extinguisher on top of my dryer ever since.