By Judy Reed
Solon Township Fire Chief Jeff Drake credits a new mutual automatic aid system with neighboring fire departments for keeping an adult foster care home from being consumed by fire last week.
Fire broke out at the home at 2690 Wiersma, in Solon Township, about 6:14 p.m., on Thursday, February 6. Drake said that they when they arrived on scene at 6:21, there was heavy fire and smoke at the front of the home. Fortunately, due to the MABAS agreement (Mutual Aid Box Alarm System), Cedar Springs, Kent City, and Algoma Fire Departments were automatically dispatched at the same time, giving Solon plenty of manpower to get the fire under control quickly.
Drake said that the fire had spread into the attic and got to the trusses. “There was minimal damage inside, but 50 percent of the roof will need to be replaced,” he explained.
He said the fire started on the front porch. A resident who had been smoking in the designated area disposed of the cigarette butt properly in a “butt hut,” but it was packed full and started on fire, melting the plastic. “They had failed to clean or maintain it,” explained Drake.
He estimated the loss at $50,000 property, and $5,000 in contents. The owner, Spectrum Health, is insured.
“It was an awesome save. An incredible save, really, considering the weather. We just recently set up the MABAS agreement, and it’s already paid its dividends,” he remarked.
Drake said he would especially like to thank the three departments for their cooperation and responding quickly to the scene. “If we didn’t have that agreement, and had waited 10 more minutes before calling them, it might’ve been a different story,” he said.
He said 22 of 28 Fire departments in Kent County are now participating in MABAS. Those who have agreements with neighboring fire departments respond automatically to all structure fires.