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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Volunteer's Role Recalled

I was living in Atlanta at the time of the Winecoff fire. My Grandfather, Paul Fleming, heard about it on the radio and went to volunteer.

You see, he had only retired shortly before from being an Assistant Chief of the Atlanta Fire Department and thought he could be a volunteer that knew how to help.

Although he liked to reminisce about his past in the fire department, he never talked about that day. Apparently, it was all too much even for an experienced man like him.

My mother was rather protective and I was only 6 years old so she wouldn’t have talked about it to me at the time.

At one time, my grandfather’s assignment had been inspecting buildings for fire violations. Mom said he once commented about the central staircase in that hotel. He said he worried about it because, if a fire ever got started, it would act like a chimney to carry the fire upwards and also block the escape route for about everyone.

Unfortunately, there was little that he could do about it except point out the problem because it was an existing building. Apparently, his concern was born out when the actual event occurred.

Paul Bowen
Manassas, Virginia