Ohio Fire Story Spreads Across the World

NILES - The story about Niles firefighters refusing to battle a house blaze because it was outside city limits has spread like a wildfire among firefighters worldwide.

Dave Iannone, publisher of Firehouse.com, said the story has been one of the hottest topics he's seen in the past few years. The vast majority of firefighters weighing in said they believed Niles firefighters were wrong, Iannone said.

''This has been one of the most discussed stories on our forum,'' he said.

Last Thursday, Niles firefighters watched from their trucks for several minutes as a home at 2782 Robbins Ave. burned until firefighters from Weathersfield arrived and put out the flames. The Niles department was mistakenly called to the fire when it was actually in Weathersfield's jurisdiction.

The story, first reported in the Tribune Chronicle Friday morning, was posted on the Firehouse Web site, www.firehouse.com, that afternoon and received more than 50,000 hits by Monday, Iannone said. The Web site records a ''hit'' every time someone clicks on a story.

The site's forum, where people can post messages expressing opinions about a story, recorded more than 22,000 hits over the weekend. Comments came from firefighters from California to as far away as Great Britain.

Iannone said the Web site ran a poll question over the weekend asking firefighters if they would battle a fire outside their jurisdiction. Iannone said they received about 5,000 responses as of Monday afternoon, with 97 percent voting in favor of taking action.

Pete Sinclair, a retired firefighter from Hartford, Mich., said he first heard about the story on firehouse.com. Sinclair said during his 31 years of experience, he has never heard of a department refusing to fight a fire because it was outside the city limits.

''If you are dispatched to a fire and on arrival find it is outside your jurisdiction, you attack the fire and notify dispatch to alert the proper department,'' he said.

The publication is headquartered in Maryland just outside of Washington D.C. Iannone said the magazine is the country's leading professional journal for firefighters with a national circulation of about 80,000.

Warren Fire Chief Ken Nussle said his department subscribes, and he is an avid reader.

''I sure most fire departments in the country subscribe to Firehouse,'' Nussle said.