Op-Ed: Wheeling High School Students Put “Feelings” Before Fire Safety

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On September 26, 2011, Wheeling Fire Chief Keith MacIsaac did his job. He attended a homecoming coronation assembly at Wheeling High School, discovered a life safety hazard, and ordered paper decorations removed because they were too close to hot lights near the ceiling.

When members of the Wheeling High School student council claimed the decorations were fire retardant, the fire chief took a sample of the paper and tested it by lighting it on fire. And it burned. A check of the paper decoration manufacturer’s packaging did not make claims that the paper was fire retardant. The packaging included a warning to consult with the local fire department before use.

Apparently student council members and a student council adviser didn’t appreciate the fire safety and life safety work of Fire Chief Keith MacIsaac and decided to attend the Village Board Meeting and — as one witness put it — whine about how their feelings were hurt. They claimed they were psychologically and emotionally devastated. The students added that they thought the paper was fire retardant.

The Village Board and school officials backed the fire chief’s actions.

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