close call

I hate it when some one shares an experience that starts with "So, funny story..." When that phrase prefaces what you have to say, the story is rarely funny.

That being said... funny story, I almost died the other day.

Right outside the window of my basement classroom is a large gas generator (flammable gasses, highly explosive). On the other side of a paved fifteen foot loading area is refrigeration and ventilation controls. Both pieces of machinery have large signs that warn ‘no smoking with in fifty feet.’

I have caught agents smoking out there; one was even leaning against the generator while smoking what could have been his very last cigarette.
I said, “Excuse me.”
He cocked his head to the side like a confused dog and asked “What?”
I just pointed to the ‘flammable gasses, no smoking’ sign.
“Oh, crap.” He said, and then started to walk away to the parking lot.

Since my classroom is in the basement, there is a hill side climbing steeply from either side. Holding up the landscaping next to the generators are wood four by fours coated with a tar like oil to keep the wood from rotting (also flammable).

Wednesday, right before lunch, one of my students exclaim, “Um, Nic… there’s a fire outside. Well maybe not a fire but it’s definitely smoking.”

Curious, I walked to the window and sure enough, there was smoke billowing from one of the wood posts fifteen to twenty feet away from the explosive material right outside my window. I dismissed every one for lunch and ran to get some water.

When I got outside a supervisor was standing above the fire spitting on it. (I did not know that saliva could be used for fighting fires, he was unaware it wouldn’t work) Later I asked him if he was really spitting on it. He said that he was and that he was to lazy to go inside to get water. Thanks, I feel safe.

My cup of water almost put it out but not quite, but a second cup did. Inside a hollowed out section of wood laid a lone cigarette. Some smoker almost burnt the place down, or blew it up, depends on how you look at it. Also take note, our company does have one designated smoking area… and the basement parking lot is not it.

The scary part of this story is that I forgot to tell my wife about it. She found out about the ordeal from a mutual friend of ours who also works at the same place I do.


  1. another good reason never to start smoking. (just one of the many reasons)

  2. Did you call the fire department? You can tell the 9-1-1 operator the fire appears to be out, but even if you were apparently succesful extinguishing the fire, the FD should have been called. Fires can restart hours or days later even after they've apparently been put out.

  3. I am in agreement with Bill here. Fires that appear to be out, often burst into flames again.

    I smoke, never said it was smart, and infact think it should be made illegal as soon as possible.

    Someone should get the "Brain Award" for smoking next to flamable gas tanks though.

  4. So... funny story...

    A few words that mean so much.

  5. That is so funny because that is the second time that has happened. A couple of weeks before I left that same thing happened...lol Sounds like maybe they need to do soemthing about that :)