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…is not just a fire, especially when there are historic records involved…or HAZMAT…or combustibles, like lime.

We are used to having dumpster fires here at work. Over the years they have become few and far between. Most people know not to throw unslaked pebble lime into the dumpster. We have a special area for that. But, every once in a while a new employee or some one forgets and viola! Fire. For those who don’t know, lime will heat up when mixed with water. It gets very hot – hot enough to melt plastic and then cause paper items to ignite. Lime is used in water treatment for ph and it coats the pipes throughout the system, so things like lead don’t leach into your drinking water. It was originally used as a disinfectant in the water system, replaced by chlorine.

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Anyway, back to the title of this post – maybe a dumpster fire should be a felony? Or at least be considered criminal negligence? As the firemen were pulling out the burning debris, I couldn’t help but notice some brown folders thrown into the mix. As the folders looked familiar, like historical records, I pulled a couple out. Shit!!! They are ‘As Built Drawings’ from the mid 1920’s! Drawings of one of the two water filtration plants! Shit!! It is unbelievable that someone would throw this stuff into a dumpster!

The City has a policy on what to do with old records. You send them to the City Archives. A couple months ago an employee from the Finance Dept. downtown called me and said that as he was walking by the recycle bin he noticed an old rolled up drawing. He wanted to know if I wanted it? Sure! Well when I received it, it turned out to be a profile drawing of the work schedule during the building of the Loch Raven Tunnel – dated 1875 – 1881! It is about 20 feet long on cloth paper, drawn in color. Unbelievable!! (I know, I keep saying ‘unbelievable’ but actually it is not. After 35 years here, every stupid thing people do is very much believable!)

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Not only were there historical documents in the dumpster, someone threw in some air cylinders, aerosol cans (2 of which exploded) and God only knows what else! And to top it all off, one of the employees wanted to climb up on the dumpster and try to put the fire out with an extinguisher! Really? Another wanted to stand on the front end loader bucket, hold a fire hose and try to extinguish it. God created firemen for a reason – let them do their job!

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