Your “Living Safe” column by Pete Hypes (Jan. 16) brought back memories of a true story when I was living in Powhatan County and a member of the local all-volunteer fire department.
It seems that back in the late 1960s, over a period of several months we received six or eight fire calls on a parcel of land owned by a couple who had a young boy (8 or 9 years old) who was somewhat mentally challenged.
Following one of these fires, while chatting with one of the sheriff’s deputies, who was also a fire department member, the young lad readily admitted to starting the fires so he would be able to see the fire trucks up close and in action.
Now with the blessings of the boy’s parents and approval by the county’s law enforcement and judicial authorities, Billy Boelt – another fire department member – and I put the following plan into action:
Once or twice a week, we took one of our fire trucks to the parents’ residence, placed a helmet on the boy’s head and took him for a 15- or 20-minute ride with sirens screaming, lights flashing and bells ringing through the rural country roads.
It wasn’t too many visits that the glamour and novelty of the fire engine ride wore off. In fact, on our last visit, the young fellow, when he saw the truck coming, ran and hid behind a tree.
There were no more fires at that location.
There were very happy and pleased firefighters and a lot of good feelings amongst the members of the local fire department and community.
George E.J. Sawyer Jr.