‘That’s our lifeline’: Firehose damaged by passing car

Muskegon County

MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — Multiple crews were called on to assist the Muskegon Heights Fire Department last week to battle a large house fire early Friday morning along Maffet Street near E. Delano Avenue. 

No one was hurt in the blaze at the vacant home, but some valuable equipment was damaged in the effort.

Criminal charges have been filed against a man who ran over a firehose, not once but twice. 

“We weren’t able to catch him the first time but did on the second pass. We identified and cited him on the spot,” Muskegon Fire Department Deputy Director Jay Paulson said. “The city’s also going to send him an invoice for the hose, so he’ll be responsible for the hose as well.”

It’s a costly and potentially dangerous mistake. 

“The hose that we use is close to $900 for a 100-foot length and that comes with the couplings on it. So, it’s not cheap,” Paulson said. “Not only that but that’s our lifeline. You know? That water is there to protect us. We lose our water we lose our lifeline. If we have a crew deeply seeded inside of a building and all a sudden they’re out of water, it could be catastrophic, you know?”

Paulson said the home, which was originally believed to have been vacant at the time of the fire, was semi-abandoned. There were people inside it when the fire occurred.

According to Michigan Vehicle Code Act 300 of 1949 Section 257.680 Driving over unprotected fire hose; violation as civil infraction. 

(1) A streetcar or vehicle shall not be driven over an unprotected hose of a fire department when laid down on a street, private driveway, or streetcar track, to be used at a a fire or alarm of fire, without the consent of the fire department official in command. 

(2) A person who violates this section is responsible for a civil infraction. 

“On that particular day, we had multiple units, multiple hoses, we had police units there and we still had cones out all blocking the street and we still had a subject make his way through all of that and strike our hose two times,” Paulson said. “It’s very, very important to keep your distance and let us do our job and stay back so it’s very important that you do that.”

It’s now an expensive teaching moment turned tool. The hose will be repurposed, finding new life as a training item. 

The Muskegon Fire Department will host a drive thru style open house Saturday, Oct. 17 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. where they will teach people about the dangers of cooking fires and fire prevention strategies in general. 

“We didn’t want to totally not have an open house. In years past, we’ve always had displays and interacted with the public,” Paulson said. “This year, we decided because of COVID-19 to do a drive thru type open house. Basically, the fire fighters will be in masks. They’ll be in their gear, there’s going to be several vendors here as well giving away handouts to people who come by. Many teaching and learning opportunities all around.”

Interested individuals will pull into the fire station and remain in their cars and can speak to and interact with the crews in the garage. 

According to Paulson, there have been seven damaging cooking fires in Muskegon during the month of September alone, necessitating further education. 

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