Do you know where your street fire hydrant is?

No this is not a pun or a play on words.

This is an actual question.

Let’s call this post a Public Service Announcement.

A mom at my daughter’s birthday party on Saturday had said that they are living in a guest house as their home had burnt down about three weeks ago.

After I got over the ‘what?’ part of the conversation – and she brought me a glass of wine to calm my nerves and explained that they had experienced a fire and their home was gutted. 

They had to live in a guest house until ….. well until …… when ever. 

The part that impressed me, was that she was the first to RSVP, she arrived timeously for the girl’s party and well she looked quite relaxed (more so when she heard there was wine on offer, and no tea and coffee).  I am not sure I would be that put together if my house had recently burnt down.

The story goes that she woke up at about 6:30 got her daughter dressed for school, and was heading up to the kitchen for breakfast/coffee, as you do.

Her house is on three levels with kitchen/main living area being on the first level. 

She said she got up to the top-level and then saw flames, arrived at the kitchen to find a column of flames on its way up and licking the ceiling.

She called the fire brigade and then hustled to get everyone out of the house.

It seems to the source was their Panasonic Microwave, which had shorted – it was turned off at the time and not in use.  Does that freak you out and make you want to unplug your own about now?  Yes, me too. 

During the conversation she kept referring to it as her “Panic Sonic” Microwave, and I thought that was either a Freudian slip or the wine talking, so from now on I am re-naming Panasonic to Panic Sonic.

Fire brigade arrived in their shiny red truck, with their very able firemen and their hoses and big … boots. 

That is really where the problem began, or should I say where she acquired an additional problem – considering her immediate problem was a huge raging fire in her kitchen.

The sign in her street indicating the location of the fire hydrant, did not have a fire hydrant, and then the game of ‘find the fire hydrant’ began.

45 minutes later was when they managed to start getting water onto the house, as that is how long it took them (and how ever wanted to join) and play find-the-frkn-fire-hydrant-while-my-house-burns-down.

The house was gutted.  No one was harmed and no animals were injured. 

However some vital things could have been saved if they had known where the fire hydrant was in the street so that they could direct the fire brigade.

So, today go out and walk up your road/street/complex and look for your fire hydrant.  Not just for the sign that says ‘fire hydrant’ but for the ACTUAL fire hydrant.

I am thinking of al the arbitrary things you should know, this is possibly one of those that will make you the most popular neighbour in the street, and maybe give you more time to rescue your wine collection if the fire is at your home.

Another disturbing story I read relating to this was this story where the fire brigade also arrived and could not use the fire hydrant at this particular home, as it was damaged and they could not clamp their hose thingy-magigee to the fire hydrant.  So house could not be saved …. now that must really be one of those times where you wonder how the universe has conspired against you.

Leave a comment


  1. Scared & Imperfect Mother

     /  June 15, 2011

    OMW so checking that out tonight…

  2. Karen

     /  June 14, 2011

    Thank you Celeste, I love the way you put our story to use. And I truly hope that if only one house and family is safe through this, it would mean the world to us. But yes, I am back on the wine and my sense of humour is alighting again. Panic Sonic not my favourite brand.

    But seriously, the only way I have been keeping it together has been through the amazing people (angels in disguise) who have crossed my way the last four weeks. We usually say: Just say if I can help with anything, and actually we mean it. But these incredible strangers (some I have only met once, some neighbours and some incredible friends) didn’t ask, they just did. A neighbour came across with a fully charged cellphone, another kept my mom (in a wheelchair and with Parkinsons) safe and warm. Another packed a lunch pack and took my little one to school, another opened her storeroom for stuff we could safe, some started networking to find us accommodation (which had to be fully furnished and equipped, take animals and wheelchair friendly) and so this list is just endless. And the of course, the wonderful women that host their children’s parties and offer wine 🙂

    John Lennon said Life is what happens while you are making other plans. I can only fully agree.

    • reluctantmom

       /  June 14, 2011

      Thanks Karen!! It is incredible what happened and more incredible that you appear to be functioning, I may well have been a weeping lump on the floor. I think we often forget the power in the “kindness of strangers” and that really is what happened for you. xxx

  3. Panni

     /  June 14, 2011

    We had a fire in our home in June 2008. Fortunately it started before we were completely asleep, otherwise we would have been trapped in our bedroom with no escape route. My very quick thinking hubby, grabbed the hose pipe from the back garden and ran to the front, broke the front door’s window and put the fire out that way. It was seconds from igniting our lounge couches and then it would have been too late for him to put it out himself. The fire brigade came long after he had put the fire out. If we had waited for them the house would have been gone. Fire spreads quicker then anyone can possibly imagine, especially when foam couches catch fire. It was the scariest night of our lives and I am forever grateful for my husband’s quick thinking and level head. He saved the day and our house. Even though the fire was out quite quickly, you will not believe the damage to the house and our belongings. We now have fire extinguishers all over the house.

    • reluctantmom

       /  June 14, 2011

      Wow, that is quite a story – we really need to do a fire drill and get fire extinguishers, frightening how these things can occur, and then we seem to be prepared after the fact ……

  4. This is extremely scary. I had to think a bit, but I know where the fire hydrant is in our complex!
    Thanks for making us aware!

  5. Ok, so just this afternoon I am going to find ours. And wow, what a woman she is – will make me feel totally inadequate Still sounds awfully nice though.

  6. LAuren

     /  June 13, 2011

    Hi there

    BTW Love your blog! There is a massive increase in fires and deaths in urban areas … increase in urban fires as a result of the huge increase in electrical goods us urbanites have plugged in permanently that overheat and then cause a fire …. and the death because of all our security … people just cannot get out their houses – they are trapped in because of our need for security!

    That came from in an interesting article from ADT our security company …. We now have our own little fire extinguisher, but smoke detectors were too expensive to instal and I have not found any wireless ones (but did not look too extensively)… we have never had security doors tho as I just find them awful and so restrictive… and am even happier with that decision after reading of the fire / escape route thing …. however we are BIG on perimeter security …. elec fence / cameras and beams which is more expensive but far better as allows much greater personal (and visual) freedom…MUSt find the hydrant tho – thank for posting this it may even save some lives!

    Love Lauren

  7. I am phoning our municipality TODAY pretending I am doing a story about our fire hydrant rumored to be broken. They’ll send someone out soon enough to come and check…

    Even though it must be devastating to lose everything in a fire -which could have been put out way earlier!-I am just glad she saw the fire in time and that they are all safe. I’m a bit worried about what you do when you are trapped inside with burglar bars???


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