Fire Extinguisher
Propane industry professionals reflect on what they value most

When was the last time you considered this question? One responder said she was grateful for this exercise, because if this scenario plays out, she now has a plan. Another has had firsthand experience. Explore our reader responses below.

Make Haste

Assuming all my family members made it out OK, I would grab the safe with important papers, my computer and my Fender Stratocaster. I may even make a dash back in to save the Ibanez semi-hollow, Alvarez 12-string and Wilson Blade tennis racquets.



Bruce Swiecicki
National Propane Gas Association
Tinley Park, Illinois


The mountains behind my house were on fire in January 2014 (the Colby Fire in California). We had just moved in five months prior. My husband woke me up with the news that the hillsides were on fire. I got dressed and gathered the dogs (food and leashes). Then I panicked. I was crying and going from room to room trying to figure out what I should pack in my car. The family photos and important documents made it into the car. Thankfully, there was a helicopter water drop as the flames were coming over the wall, and our house was saved. 

Julie Johnson
Ted Johnson Propane
Baldwin Park, California


My dog, my laptop and my wife. Not necessarily in that order.

Steve Abbate
Cetane Associates
Kent, Connecticut


The number one answer to this question is simple. I would grab my little dog Pgi (Peegee) — my true heart medicine. If I was strong enough and capable, my second grab would be my dining room table. It was the table that sat in the back dining room of my mother’s Italian restaurant. It was her mother’s, and now it is mine. 
If only that beautiful old table could talk! It has had more stories, both true and embellished, told around it from across the country and foreign lands then I could ever put in a book. Everyone went to my mother for advice, and there were probably more sins exposed than in a Catholic confessional. Number three would be to grab as many family pictures as I could off the wall on the way out the door. Memories over material objects will always win the day for me.

Judy Taranovich
 Proctor Gas
Proctor, Vermont


First and foremost, I would make sure my husband is with me and nobody else is in the house. Second, I would grab my purse with my cell phone, keys, etc. Third, I would try to get our vehicles out of the garage if time permitted. While I have many mementos, pictures and other items I would hate to lose in a fire, the bottom line is that getting out of a fire safely with your family is more important than trying to grab possessions.

Rosie Buschur
McMahan’s Bottle Gas
Dayton, Ohio


Assuming that my family and pets are already safely out of the house, I would grab a pocket watch passed down from my great-great-grandfather, the computer, which contains many of our family photos and a small desk handmade by my grandfather. 

Jason Soulon
Westmor Industries
Shawnee, Kansas


1. The cat
2. My purse (I’m very practical — it has everything I need in it.)
3. Something of my mother’s … this was the hardest, as the item I would like to take is the baby grand piano she left me, which is a little too heavy — but nothing else immediately came to mind. I finally realized I should probably take one of her coats. My mom was known far and wide for her amazing collection of beautiful coats, and since I now own a few of them, it would only be right that I run out of my burning home, clutching my cat, my purse over my shoulder and beautifully dressed in my mother’s coat.

Leslie Woodward
Fairview Fittings
Oakville, Ontario


The amount of time I might have to grab three things would certainly influence my decisions. Obviously, any living thing would be the first priority. 
After that, I would want my Harleys, guitars and laptop bag. At least I would have transportation, a hobby to torture myself with and the ability to work. 

Boyd H. McGathey
Energy Distribution Partners
Parkville, Missouri


1. My computer — I have backups, but I have seen too many times that backups fail. I would want to be sure I have it. 
2. My backup hard drives! These are backups from old computers. They have older photos and documents on them. In fact, I need to put them somewhere better than where they are now.
3. Items from my safe. Depending on the severity of the fire, I wouldn’t trust the safe to hold up.

Susan Peterson
Rural Computer Consultants
Bird Island, Minnesota


1. My wife of 44 years would be the very first thing I would grab! She would gather all of our family picture albums. With five adult children and six grandkids, all of our important events, memorabilia and cherished memories are with our family.
2. Neither my wife nor I are big “jewelry people,” but over the years, we have collected watches, rings and sentimental hand-me-downs from family members.
3. I thought I would grab my personal computer, but then I realized everything is all backed up in the cloud, so as a result, I chose my cell phone — the “nucleus” of all my communications — so I could call the fire department.

Jerry Schimmel
P3 Propane Safety
Cumberland, Rhode Island


I would grab my husband, my cat and my necklace with my father’s picture and my mother-in-law’s charm on it. Everything else could be replaced.

Laurie Irish-Jones
Irish Propane
Buffalo, New York


I’m making an assumption that my family, including our three dogs, are safely outside. So, the three things I would grab are Chaz’s ashes, my kids’ comfort items (blanket or stuffed animal) and our printed family photos.

Lauren Clark
Toledo, Ohio

Not the Easiest Choice

I’m glad to report that my husband — who is often asked the same questions as those posed to our colleagues month after month — answered that I would be his No.1 choice. I suggested he assume that I was safely grabbing my three things, since I can only visualize us making this hypothetical, lifesaving dash together. 

As many of our responders this month pointed out, saving life is the first priority, while a sentimental, irreplaceable piece of memorabilia also makes the top three list. Treasured family photo albums and important documents may not make the cut as they are likely to be securely stored in digital format. Thanks to the cloud, we are now able to establish somewhat simpler escape plans.

If you are interested in submitting responses, contact Coop at

Nancy Coop is an industry advocate. She serves as marketing director at Cetane Associates. Contact her at Visit 

Restructured, renewed and ready for what lies ahead