Good luck, quick thinking save township garage

Tehkummah roads boss was in the right place at the right time

TEHKUMMAH—Thanks to good luck and quick thinking by a municipal employee, the citizens of Tehkummah were spared a potentially costly, not to mention inconvenient, fire two weeks ago.

The day was Tuesday, January 21 and had Tehkummah roads superintendent Jamie Taylor not happened to drop by the municipal garage when he did at around 12:15 pm, it is very likely that the municipal garage, two snowplows, the township roads grader and the township tractor plus most of the ordinary maintenance tools would have gone up in smoke, along with the large, six bay structure and the old municipal office.

But all of this didn’t happen because Mr. Taylor happened to drop by the garage just at the right time to check on things. He’d just been fishing in the morning on a day off following a lot of snowplowing and had swung by the garage on his way home.

“We sure got lucky there,” Mr. Taylor modestly told The Expositor. “We dodged a bullet on that one. Another 10 minutes and probably the whole thing would have been on fire.”

Once the fire was out and things had calmed down, Mr. Taylor realized what had been happening when he had opened the door to a darkened garage, was met by dense smoke and could see flames under the closest truck, a snowplow truck that had finished working and had been parked at around 9 pm the previous night.

In the immediacy of the moment, though, he seized one of several fire extinguishers in the building and doused the flames.

When he examined the situation, he said, he realized that, “the hydraulic hose was on fire when I got there. If it had burned another five minutes, it would have burned through and the hydraulic oil would have fueled the fire.”

Tehkummah Reeve Gary Brown has high praise for Mr. Taylor’s quick thinking as well as his dedication to the job that brought him into the deserted building for a look around on a day he’d taken to relax after a lot of snowplowing.

“It (the fire) had gotten as far as the main supply line for the hydraulic pump. When he (Jamie Taylor) put the fire out, he touched the line and it started leaking oil. That’s how close we were to a big oil fire,” Reeve Brown said, putting the events in perspective.

Reeve Brown said it’s customary to bring the large pieces of winter maintenance equipment inside after they have been used, “to melt the snow so they can be inspected for the next run.”

Reeve Brown noted that these actions not only saved the garage and the other equipment, but the vehicle that was on fire itself. “He had to pick up a new battery, a battery cable and a hydraulic hose and he was able to fix it himself.”

Mr. Taylor and Mr. Brown said it was determined that the battery cable had been wearing against the truck frame until it began to arc and the fuel that started the fire was likely oil that was coating the hydraulic lines.

Reeve Brown said that, since the incident, kill switches have been ordered for municipal equipment that didn’t already have this device installed (including this snowplow truck) that are designed to disable and interrupt the power from the battery to the vehicle when the vehicle is parked and not in service.

For his part, Mr. Taylor said that “I haven’t had time to think about that event, really. We’ve been plowing snow pretty steady up until today (Monday).”