B y Jaime Thomas
Conditions couldn’t have been worse at 4 a.m. Thursday morning when a barn caught fire in Fort Ann.
Snow had been accumulating throughout the previous afternoon and night and was thundering down at an estimated rate of 1 to 3 inches per hour.
Fortunately for everyone involved, Hartford Highway Superintendent Greg Brown was in his office, listening to the scanner.
Before any fire apparatus were able to get to the scene, Brown had two of his plow trucks clearing the road and leading in Hartford fire trucks.
“This one worked out; it’s just a plan we’ve had since I’ve been there,” Brown said, deferring any praise for his help. “I look at it that we try to be an extension of the rescue squad to help out.”
When significant snowstorms come, Brown and some of his crew stay overnight in the town highway garage. Should an emergency call come through, they can immediately be of aid.
“That’s what I do because I feel I need to do it for my job,” Brown said. He explained that as part of the plan put in place, he calls Hartford Fire Chief Brian Jones to let him know he’s around.
“The joke between us is we hope we don’t have to see each other. This time we did,” Brown said. He said because the snow was coming down so hard, the fire trucks would’ve had trouble approaching the blaze if they could not follow a plow.
Town Supervisor Dana Haff said the house next to the barn, which was a total loss, might have been lost as well if the Hartford Highway Department didn’t act so quickly. Brown said Jones told him the same thing.
“He told me that by them getting there it saved the house,” Brown said.
Fort Ann Fire Chief Kevin Loveland said the crew’s fast action was “absolutely” a help at the fire.
“By having the roads plowed, they were able to get right up to the house and put water on it,” he said. “The outcome was a lot better than it could’ve been.”
Brown does not want to take credit for his extra work during snowstorms, saying simply “the plan we had in place worked.”
Haff said Brown regularly takes a truck and sander home in order to prepare for responders, so if other workers are not near a scene he can arrive directly without wasting time.
“Hartford’s emergency responders are always happy to help our neighboring towns when in need of mutual aid but mutual aid only works if they can actually drive over the roads and get to the scene safely during a snow storm,” Haff added.