CLINTON: Helping his community pass a fire levy in November paid big dividends Sunday for Mayor Al Knack, and not only in a professional way.
Knack said he was sitting back, enjoying a football game on television and relaxing in front of a fire when he heard what sounded like “a train in the fireplace” about 5 p.m.
“I went outside and looked up and saw flames shooting 4 or 5 feet out of the chimney cap in all directions,” Knack said Wednesday.
As a volunteer with the Franklin Township Fire Department from 1974-2000, the mayor has some experience dealing with fires and realized that any fire, even confined to a chimney, can spread quickly.
“I knew instead of playing games, the first thing you do is call the fire department,” he said.
Knack said he never dreamed that after campaigning last fall for a levy that would continue to fund the fire department’s joint agreement with New Franklin and keep it intact, that the effort would affect him so personally.
“When you go out and tell people that you have an excellent service, you never really know if what you are saying is true unless you experience it yourself. You hate to see it up close and personal, but the service was phenomenal. The professionalism of both departments was good to see,” Knack said.
On Nov. 6, voters approved the 3.75-mill renewal by a 2-1 margin.
Knack said he and his wife, Carol, were the only ones in their two-story home when the fire started, and he called for help.
By the time he got back outside after making the call, a police officer was already in front of the house with a spotlight trained on the chimney, he said.
Two or three minutes later, an attack truck was on the scene, and more trucks arrived shortly after with enough personnel and equipment to douse the fire.
The fire did not spread to other parts of the house, Knack said. Insurance will cover damage to the chimney, the mayor said, and firefighters laid tarps on the home’s carpeting to prevent it from getting dirty.
After the fire was out, Knack said a neighbor asked how he was going to sleep without fear the chimney would catch fire again during the night.
“I told him, ‘See those two men?’ ” as he pointed to Clinton Fire Chief Brent Frey and New Franklin Assistant Chief Tim Young, who were on the scene.
“They aren’t leaving until they know we are safe,” Knack answered.
Kathy Antoniotti can be reached at 330-996-3565 or firstname.lastname@example.org.