FRAZIER: Responsible fire prevention begins with me

Published 4:00 am Saturday, January 29, 2022

Call me paranoid, but after the rash of fires in Vicksburg this month, I’ve become a bit fearful.

Especially the other day when I got a call while I was out running errands. It was about a fire near where I live.

Thank goodness I was headed back home.

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Panic got the best of me, so I began to press down harder on the gas pedal to elevate my speed. As I got closer to home, I started looking in the sky for black clouds of smoke. A sure sign something is burning.

I didn’t see any, but because I have a stinking thinking mind, I still had a smidge of unease.

Could it be my house?

It wasn’t of course. In fact, there wasn’t even a fire. At least, not at that moment. I had been confused by the information. It had actually occurred earlier that morning when most folks would have been sleeping.

Covering a fire is gut-wrenching.

Before I started working at the paper, I had not really been around a structure fire, at least not up close and personal.

Covering fires is not usually my beat; however, there have been occasions when I was needed.

And in those times, I have experienced fires so powerful, I could feel their heat on my face. Then there is the smoke that not only drifts into your nostrils, but its smell also clings to your clothes, only dissipating when washed.

I think the worst fire I’ve had to report on was at an apartment complex. Flames were already roaring when I arrived.

And the people.

Thankfully, they had all had managed to get out, but I remember there was one woman distraught and in tears. She couldn’t find her cat.

Then there was another fire I was assigned to cover in which I knew the family, making it that much more heartbreaking to have to stand by and watch.

In the midst of these tragedies and others I have witnessed, there is also something else I have observed — the first responders and firefighters.

It is amazing to see these heroes in action, from hauling out the hoses to marching into a burning building.

Words can’t adequately describe the sight. You just have to be there to watch.

Subsequently, it was from these experiences and my heightened anxiety from the number of fires recently that I asked if I could write a fire safety story.

I knew my questions would need to address ways in which someone could protect their property from fire, but I also took advantage of my interviews to inquire about my own home and how to keep it safe from a fire.

I will have to say, after talking with the Vicksburg Fire Department chief and the Warren County Fire Coordinator, I found out there were a couple of things I needed to address.

Therefore, I urge anyone who is reading my column to also read my story on fire safety, which is online and printed on page A7 of the weekend newspaper.

Chief Craig Dancyzk and Jerry Briggs gave some life-saving advice.

And like I wrote in my story, if you need a smoke detector installed in your home and or need to know if your home is adequately equipped, the Warren County Fire Service and the Vicksburg Fire Department are offering to come to your home for free. All you have to do is call 601-631-8806 for the Warren County Fire Service or 601-636-1603 for the VFD.

To address some of my anxiety, I plan on taking advantage of their service soon.

About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

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