You don’t know what you don’t know.
Hornell Fire Chief Frank Brzozowski didn’t know what to expect a year ago today, when the department was toned out for a fire on Preston Avenue in the city. Each call is treated as a structure fire until proven otherwise, though most don’t keep firefighters busy for long — a small oven fire that tripped a smoke detector, perhaps, or maybe leaves burning in a backyard.
The latter certainly seemed like a possibility on that sunny fall afternoon, a good day to be outside getting a few final chores done before winter. It was a Sunday, and the Buffalo Bills were in the midst of building a big lead over the Dolphins.
Chief Brzozowski was home when the call came in.
“My first intuition was it’s just another call, and we can usually handle them pretty easily,” Brzozowski recalled. “When I came up over the overhead behind the fire station I could see the column of smoke in the air, so I knew we had something that was more significant than just a small fire.”