Fire has ironic--and sad--twist

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07/11/2011

Some irony can be humorous, some dramatic and some tragic—when a person’s actions lead to sad consequences that are the opposite of what the person intended. I read two sadly ironic news stories this month. One involved motorcycles—and another one fire.

The first was about a New York motorcyclist who died July 3 riding in that state with 550 other motorcyclists to protest New York’s mandatory helmet law. According to a news report, the 55-year-old man hit his brakes, his Harley Davidson fishtailed and he went over the handlebars and hit his head on the pavement. He was pronounced dead at the hospital, but medical experts reportedly said the man would have survived if he’d worn a helmet.

Then there was this item, posted on the National Fire Sprinkler Association web site on July 5.

“In August of 2010, Mark Patterson, president of the Maine Home Builders and Remodelers Association, testified at a Maine Building Codes and Standards meeting against requiring sprinklers in new single-family homes. Less than a year later, [in June], Patterson's home was a total loss from fire according to the Sanford, Maine Fire Department.”

The NFSA quoted Patterson as stating at the meeting that the builders’ association was “not in favor of making sprinklers mandatory due to the costs which are estimated to be between $4,000 – $8,000.”

But on June 26, a fire destroyed the Sanford home of Patterson, co-owner of PATCO Construction, a construction company based in Sanford, according to Maine’s largest newspaper, The Portland Press Herald.

The newspaper reported that the home was a half-mile from the nearest hydrant, so a fire official “ordered tanker trucks to set up a water shuttle. The roof collapsed and the second floor collapsed into the first.”

The NFSA said on its site: “The house had no sprinklers installed and was a total loss, according to the Sanford Fire Department.”

I've got a call in to that fire department.