Preparing for the Implausible, The Importance of a Fire Safety Plan Part 1

We feel this blog reader’s story is critical for others to hear and take to heart. A fire safety plan is so imperative to have and practice!

“It will never happen to us. I’ve seen house fires on the news
before, but they’re so rare. The probability of having one is so low
that it’s basically implausible!”

This is what I used to think, and partially, I was right. If one crunches the numbers, it’s unlikely one would ever experience such an event. Nevertheless, if it did happen, what could be the consequences?

This story not only emphasizes the importance of having a fire safety plan but also the importance of recognizing God’s working in our lives. Our own plan helped us through that terrible morning, but it was the Lord that saved us.

When I was younger, I was so good with fire that I was named the official fire starter in my Boy Scout troop. I’d been living in wood heated homes for most of my life. Cutting and splitting wood in the freshly fallen snow was a favorite family tradition. The highlight of winter was starting our wood stove in our dining room and watching the flames through the glass door. I’ve never smelled anything better than the aroma of hot black cherry coming from the chimney on my walk to the barn on a frigid winter day. Now, I have anxiety just smelling smoke.

I’d like to think that my wife and I were so smart that we came up with our annual safety plan all on our own. We lived in an old, two-story farm house, heated with wood, and had all six of our kids sleeping upstairs, so such a plan would seem wise. But, more than that, we were convicted in the Spirit. It was the Lord’s providence that set a plan in our hearts. We never thought that we’d actually need one. He had a plan, and we listened.

The fire plan was as simple as possible, since under the conditions one might get confused, and time would probably be critical. If the smoke alarms went off, they would yell “fire!” and wake all of their siblings. They were not to leave anyone behind. They were to take nothing … no blankies, no stuffed animals, no pets, no toys. Making sure everybody was awake and together, they’d make their way to the safest exit … down the stairs, out the landing window above the porch into the bushes, or via the window escape ladder they had in their own room. We hadn’t actually practiced the latter option, since it was quite terrifying!

Once they were out, they were to all meet in front of the barn and stay there until an adult came. They were not to go anywhere! If, after a time, it seemed that an adult was not coming, they were to run to the neighbors for help. We’d rehearse this every year in the fall before I’d start a fire. I’d quiz them intermittently on what they were going to do if they heard the smoke alarm. I had about 10 smoke alarms in the house. That seemed excessive at the time, but now one per room is the minimum. I made sure that they were all working. Are those square batteries expensive? I used to think so.

I had worked that Saturday, and my wife had returned home late from her extremely postponed family Christmas dinner. Presents filled the living room, and everyone was exhausted. The kids were asleep, and we made our way to bed. Everything was exactly how it was every other night; the stove being no exception. At about 1am, my wife wakes me to talk.

Only a few days before the event.

She said she’d had too much caffeine from the party and couldn’t sleep. Typically, this would be completely inadvisable, given my nighttime and morning demeanor! But, that night I was conversational. Shortly after, my three-year-old daughter comes strolling in to sleep in our queen sized bed with the two dogs and our one-year-old, who had already awoken to nurse.

I made my way to the couch and had just laid down when I heard a very peculiar noise. I got up and checked the dining room for a cat that was not supposed to be in the house. I looked around the dining room, found no cat, and laid back down. Then, there was a very loud “crash” from the attack. Intruder! Robber! Thief! Someone was in the house. They’d been hiding in our walk-in attic and tripped over all the junk trying to sneak around. I grabbed my weapon of choice and ran up the stairs. My heart was pounding, not knowing what I was going to see when I turned the corner to the landing. The light was already on, instantly revealing the enemy. Smoke was rolling in around the attic door. The house was on fire.


Look for Part 2 next week, you won’t want to miss this ending.

Cody, his wife, and their sweet children!

“He shall cover thee with his feathers,
and under his wings shalt thou trust:
his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night;
nor for the arrow that flieth by day.”
Psalm 91:4-5

7 thoughts on “Preparing for the Implausible, The Importance of a Fire Safety Plan Part 1”

  1. Hello Sarah and the Maxwell family,

    I am afraid for the end of the story. Two years ago trees in front of our house were in fire in the middle of the night. I remember my terror and still shuddering. I grabbed my daughter and our lady cat and run for our life. What an horrible recollection. Fortunately and thanks to our Lord, the house was not ruined.
    God bless you

  2. I think this is a great post, not enough thought goes into a plan for this situation. Well not usually until you have a fire. That is what happened to us. Thank God, he protected us and no one was hurt. We still had a house standing, but the inside had major damage. A fire is something that really never crosses your mind. Who would’ve thought a defective dehumidifier would destroy your house. We have since thought a lot about an evacuation plan, and discuss how we would get out, even a leash in the bedroom so we have control of a scared dog if a fire would happen at night. We also have an overabundance of smoke alarms which we didn’t have before. It’s so important to have a plan. Thanks Maxwells for your post. 🙂

  3. Really hoped that the family had Fire Escape Ladders for the kids since they were on the second floor. My close childhood friend had one and have always thought that they were a good idea for second story homes. Also, I hope that they had their important documents in a fireproof safe.
    Fire safety is important. Every child needs to learn it and to go to a firehouse to learn about fire safety.

  4. Boy, Sarah, this is a cliff hanger! I can’t wait to hear what happens. We’ve never had any fires around here, but I personally think we came close to it once. We had a “small” fire (my dad never really makes a small fire 🙂 ) going on our back porch. Suddenly, the wind blew and sparks went flying right all over me, my mom and my sibling, and our house! I freaked out and started screaming and running as did my sister, my mom and brother froze, and my dad was brushing the sparks off of them. He didn’t seem to think it was any big deal, but I sure did, though I still love camp fires but am now more cautious. 🙂
    Anyway, can’t wait to hear the rest of the story! 🙂

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