Thursday, September 9, 2010

Fire in Harlem

Today was an extraordinary day. I was sitting at the Indian Road Cafe near Inwood Park when one of my roommates called and said, "There's a fire in our building! I've got to go." I tried to ask him a question but he had already hung up. Immediately, I dialed my sister, who lives in another apartment in my building. On my second try, I reached her. "Everyone's fine and everyone's out of our apartments. There's a LOT of smoke but it seems like there's less than there was a few minutes ago," she said. Firefighters were already on the scene.

I hopped on the subway and saw fire engines lining the streets when I came out at my stop. When I turned the corner onto my block, here's what I saw:

My roommates told me that the smoke had been so thick that people couldn't get down the stairs. Instead, they had to climb to the roof and climb down the fire engine ladders.

The good news is that my sister's and my apartments were not damaged, and most of our building is fine. The terrible news is that the family standing on the sidewalk in that last photo is now homeless. The fire started in their apartment, apparently because one of the kids knocked a candle over. Almost none of their possessions survived the fire. The American Red Cross and our landlords are making sure that they'll have a place to sleep until they can find a new permanent home.

What kinds of leadership are required in an emergency like this? What does a leader do when a fire is discovered? Who are the leaders when the fire is being put out? What leadership is needed after the fire is extinguished? Is there anything I can still do to be a good leader in the days after the fire?


  1. The kind of leadership that is requiered in an emergeny like this is people that are ready to put out the fire and get everyone to safety like firefighters in this case. After the fire is extinguished the leadership needed is the type that will help the people who were affected by the fire. There is always something you can do to be a good leader. You should help support the family that was left homeless in any way possible. Some ways my be by donating anything that might be helpful to them or by visiting them so they know that they are not abandoned in their time of disfortune. - Helmsley H.

  2. Thanks, Helmsley! I like your idea. I think I might donate to the Red Cross to help the family. You're also right that visiting my neighbors would be a good way to help. They've been coming to pick up and clean out the burned apartment, so I should go say hello and see how they're doing again.

  3. I agree with Helmsley. This kind of situation is where people like the Firefighters are in power. They have to be brave ans serious to get people out safely. People should try to cooperate with them in a time where the family becomes homeless. There are many things that you-Mr.Toomajian- can do to be in power. You can somehow help this poor family get themselves back on their feet. Maybe give them some imperishable food (And a can opener :3) so that they don't starve. If they can somehow find a place to stay, offer to babysit (after school!). But these are things that can help the family. You can do something for the building as well. Earn a fundraiser for the renovation of the damaged part. (I'll participate!) But there are things that not only you but the family can do as well. They can be powerful just as Tod Beamer was. Brave and not afraid to give their live for others. If they know what's ahead of them, they should be able to go through the obstacles that they will face. Tell them I said good luck!

    703-Nyah Looc

  4. When in a problem like that,there should be a lot of responsibility. The type of responsibility will be to have a smoke detector THAT'S WORKING and to talk to neighbors and make an emergency plan if the situation occurs. In problems like that, some dreadful things not to do are: leave a child home a lone without any supervision, play with matches or turn on the stove. Avoid flammable objects close to sockets. Try not to breath in fumes which are hazardous. Never hide in rooms or under the bed. To add, going in elevators can be dangerous. The best thing to do is to use the fire escape. The firefighters are people that risk their lives to save others. I rather call them 'Life Fighter!' To wrap up, fires are unpleasant and they should try to be avoided.