Two Thumb Electric Cooperative (TEC) journeyman linemen recently put their safety training into action when they responded to a house fire on Atwater Road, between Ubly and Parisville.

On the afternoon of October 3, Jim Vogel and Shane Maurer were returning from a jobsite when they noticed what appeared to be flames coming from the back corner of a house, but they didn’t see any smoke. There were cars in the driveway, but no one outside. Not sure if what they were seeing was actually fire, the two pulled into the driveway, ready to call the fire department and offer their help.

Once in the driveway, they could clearly tell the house was on fire. Jim grabbed a fire extinguisher from the truck and began attacking the flames while Shane called 911. The home owner came outside with his own fire extinguisher, but it was too small to be much help. Every time Jim thought the flame was finally put out, he heard embers popping and the flame returned. Shane was able to flag down a police car that happened to be driving by, while Jim continued to fight the flames until the fire department arrived and took over.

“Jim and Shane undoubtedly prevented the fire from becoming larger and potentially destroying the home,” said Anthony Schember, Safety Coordinator at TEC. “And, if the fire spread or grew too large, there’s a good chance the elderly residents might not have made it out.”

The fire is believed to have started by hot embers that blew from a nearby burning barrel and landed between the deck and the home’s siding.

TEC linemen receive annual training on proper fire extinguisher operation and inspection. Fire extinguishers are carried on all TEC equipment for emergency use, and are inspected by the linemen regularly to ensure they are in proper working condition.

“Co-op employees across the state regularly go above and beyond to help people in need,” said MECA Safety Director, Joe McElroy. “Jim and Shane are part of that distinguished group.”