Note: This guest blog is by Chris Aldrich, a firefighter for 23 years, (19.5 in Toms River with 2 of the 19 years as Fire Chief, 12 years as a command officer, 3.5 years in Whitesville FD, Jackson Township serving currently as Fire Commissioner), as well a Deputy Fire Coordinator, with the Ocean County Fire Coordinators for 3 years, and 14 years as a Deputy Coordinator in the Toms River Office of Emergency Management. Chris is a public adjuster with Andrew K. Knox and Company.

Being a New Jersey firefighter, Chip asked me about how many fires we get on a holiday weekend.

The answer to that question is lots. But it’s not just fires; we are also frequently called to motor vehicle accidents & extrications, most times involving impaired or intoxicated drivers, and firework accidents involving injury. Some of those firework accidents also include fires at homes and wildfires, which should be fresh in everyone’s minds with the recent death of 19 firefighters in Arizona this week, (God Speed Brothers).

This is the season of barbecues. But these can be hazardous as well. Sometimes grills will catch fire, the propane tanks will catch fire, or sometimes the grill is too close to a home or shrubbery and will inadvertently cause a fire.

Use caution and common sense when grilling. Make sure you have clearance from your home, so radiant heat will not melt vinyl siding start a fire on wooden siding. Also make sure your grill is clear of trees, shrubs or brush.

And if a fire or accident occurs, call 911. We see frequently receive calls too late, when an earlier call would have allowed us a better chance at saving lives and property. If you have a fire in your home, make sure your family meets in the prearranged safe area.

We as enjoy helping people through the worst possible moments; it is why we choose to be firefighters. If something is wrong and you call 911, fully trained first responders will come to your aid, whether police, fire fighters, or EMS, and they will do whatever is necessary, (including sacrifice their own lives to save yours).

Have a great Independence Day.

Chris Aldrich