Island Vibes May 2024

hile major house fires don’t occur often on Isle of Palms, firefighters from across the Charleston area responded to two in March that happened less than 24 hours apart. No individuals were hurt, but both fires caused significant damage: one to a home on Ocean Boulevard and the other to a residence along Palmetto Drive. “Extensive fire damage was sustained at the Ocean Boulevard home due to the incident being 5 NEWS O IOP house fires unrelated, no signs of arson By L. C. Leach III About the Cover By Laura Fogarty W en and heavily involved prior to dispatch,” said IOP Fire Chief Craig Oliverius. “Water damage from fire suppression efforts affected units located beneath the primary and exposure fire units.” Firefighters were called in from Mount Pleasant, Sullivan’s Island and downtown Charleston, along with first responders with Charleston County EMS, which assisted IOPFD in the incidents. Both fires were under control within an hour of dispatch. The fires are still under investigation for root causes. IOP Fire Marshal Sean Harshaw and Oliverius have so far ruled out arson and any connection between the two fires. Despite the damage and upheaval to the homes, Oliverius said the reason neither blaze caused any casualties was that residents got out of the homes and immediately called 911. “Each fire was successful because the owner/occupants evacuated the structures and allowed the firefighters to do their job,” Oliverius said. Even with the low frequency of island house fires, Oliverius added that with the prevalence of windy conditions and the IOP summer season at hand, residents and guests alike can avoid fires large and small with simple preventive and proactive measures: • Always maintain working smoke alarms and have them checked at least twice per year • Have at least one smoke alarm in a central area on each floor • Keep a smoke alarm inside each bedroom • Mount smoke alarms adjacent to kitchen areas, not inside the area directly • Install an accessible fire extinguisher on each floor, specifically adjacent to the kitchen, and one on a patio if you utilize grills or other cooking devices • Install a working carbon monoxide alarm, especially if you use gas appliances such as propane • Close your bedroom doors at night because doing so provides a temporary safe haven from fire, and allows fire crews a better chance of rescuing a resident from a window by ground ladder • If your best efforts at prevention still result in an accidental fire, have a common meeting place outside the structure determined in advance “If you see visible smoke, immediately lower yourself to the floor and crawl to your closest exit because staying as low as possible is the best chance of staying beneath the hazards of smoke inhalation,” advised Oliverius. “And once outside, do not return to the structure for any reason. Let firefighters do their work.” n an unusually chilly springtime afternoon on the Isle of Palms, VFW 3137 Commander Charles “Bo” Stallings gathered with past Commander Henry “Buddy” Gillam and South Carolina State Commander Jim Fox to hold the American flag for a photo recognizing both the importance and the solemnity of the upcoming Memorial Day holiday. The flag was provided by Pamela Marsh, VFW Auxiliary Junior vice president. Marsh described this special flag as being folded by the Honor Guard at the completion of her father’s service and presented to her mother, his wife of 65 years. Marsh recalled, “On the day of his memorial service, family and friends sat in the sanctuary of the church, a 21-gun salute blasted the silence. I remember thinking that may have been similar to the sounds of guns and bombs experienced by the many young men and women who serve in combat.” Affectionately known as “"The Post on the Coast"” VFW 3137 proudly displays flags representing the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Space Force. Post 3137 was established in 1969 and officially opened its brick-and-mortar doors on the Isle of Palms in 1976. Thirteen years later, Hurricane Hugo knocked the VFW to the ground, but this devastation proved to be no match for the rebuilding efforts of its members. Stallings has been actively involved with VFW 3137 since 1984. He has proudly served four terms as post commander and is responsible for enforcing the organization’s laws, presiding over meetings, ensuring adherence to rules and appointing committees, while serving a country and a community he loves. To honor the solemnity and reverence of Memorial Day, members of our local VFW were kind enough to clarify the distinction of this day not only on the last weekend of May, but also every single day of the year. Memorial Day honors those who lost their lives in the ultimate sacrifice – in defense of our country. When asked what an appropriate greeting for this somber occasion would be, several local veterans offered this advice: “I hope your Memorial Day is meaningful.” We plan to heed this wise and contemplative suggestion and invite our dear readers to do the same. Photo Provided. Pictured from left: Isle of Palms VFW 3137 past Post Commander Henry “Buddy” Gillam, Commander Charles “Bo” Stallings, Auxiliary Junior Vice President Pamela Marsh and South Carolina State Commander Jim Fox. Photo by Tonya McGue