Column: From the Desk of Fire Chief Ron Cust

‘Twas the night before Christmas when all through the house, Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse, When down through the chimney all covered with soot, Came the SPIRIT OR FIRE, an ugly galoot.

His eyes glowed like embers, his features were stern, As he looked all around for something to burn. What he saw made him grumble, his anger grew higher, For there wasn’t a thing that would start a good fire.

No door had been blocked by the big Christmas tree, It stood in the corner leaving passage-way free, The lights that glowed brightly for Betty and Jim, Had been hung with precaution so none touched a limb.

All the wiring was new, not a break could be seen, And water at its base kept the tree nice and green, The tree had been trimmed by a mother insistent, That the ornaments used, must be fire-resistant.

And would you believe it, right next to the tree, was a suitable box for holding debris; A place to throw wrappings of paper and string, from all of the gifts that Santa might bring.

The ugly galoot was so mad he near bust, As he climbed up the chimney in utter disgust, For the folks in this home had paid close attention, To all the rules of good FIRE PREVENTION.

Alberta Fire News is often asked about the origin of the “The Night Before Christmas for Firefighters” poem. We’re pleased to offer the following explanation from Joan Armstrong, Manager, Policy and Strategic Services at Alberta Municipal Affairs: “When I was a little girl in the 1950s, my dad brought home the poem, which had been published in the Maritime Telegraph and Telephone Company Ltd. newsletter, “The Bulletin.”

Technology being what it was, to share the poem it was necessary to type it. (No photocopiers, word processing or e-mail). I still have this yellowed, typewritten copy at home. I pulled it out and dusted it off a few years ago to share with the Fire Commissioner’s Office. It had to be tuned up a bit for currency so that people could relate to it today, but those of us who have been around for a while can still relate to the original version and I enjoy the memories it evokes.”

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