Boyden: A fire averted, a community blessed |

Boyden: A fire averted, a community blessed

Letter to the editor
Letter to the editor

Arriving home on Tuesday evening, I could hear an incessant “beep-beep-beep …. beep-beep-beep.” I tried to tune it out. Like most of us, I work in the service industry, and it had been a long day. It may have been about five minutes before I said something to my wife. “Is that a smoke alarm?” 

We talked through the possibilities. Surely, anyone inside the alarmed apartment could hear that. We didn’t see fire when we walked up the stairs. Maybe the constant noise was just another “perk” of Aspen apartment living. It couldn’t be a house fire. Was it a carbon monoxide alarm? A quick Google search let us know that carbon monoxide alarms have four beeps in period, not three. A thought came next — if a smoke alarm detects smoke, and it’s been beeping for 10 minutes now, should I assume it’s functioning perfectly? “Should I call 911? Is this an emergency?” I asked. I quickly tried to search for the non-emergency number to call and, unsuccessful, dialed 911. 

I explained to the dispatcher that my neighbor’s smoke alarm had been going off for 10 minutes at this point, and I didn’t know if it was an emergency, but it would be better safe than sorry if someone took a look. It’s funny how you can forget the agency you have in situations like this. “Did you try knocking?” She asked. Smart. 

With the dispatcher on the line, I knocked on the door with no answer. “Can you see or smell smoke? Do you see flames?” she asked. I peeked through the tiny slit in the blinds, and my voice quivered as I had to tell her in disbelief, “Yes.”

The dispatcher had already routed police officers and firefighters to my location. Within 30 seconds of my “Yes,” three police officers screeched to a halt in front of our building. Ninety seconds behind them was an Aspen Fire Department truck — with every volunteer firefighter geared up from head to toe. The door was kicked in by the second minute, and the flames were out by the third minute. Minutes more and the situation could have been much, much worse. 

I must say I have never experienced such a feeling of safety as that night. We should all be very proud of the first responders we have here in Aspen. It was impressive to witness first-hand the selfless service, professionalism, and dedication our police officers and sheriff’s deputies, firefighters, dispatchers, and all of the people who thanklessly support them are ready to give us whenever we might need to call on them. 

This is a long-winded way to say thank you, but thank you — to the dispatchers, police officers, deputies, volunteer firefighters, and all who thanklessly support them. It’s easy to tune things out this time of year. Don’t tune out your community. Community starts with your neighbors.

Eric Boyden