ORANGE, Conn. (WTNH) — A volunteer firefighter in Orange is sharing her story after her own home caught fire. While the cause of the fire remains under investigation, a recalled appliance could be to blame.
“I always wanted to be a firefighter, back where I grew up in New Jersey,” said Lisa Kaplan, of Orange. “I said to my husband, when our youngest goes to college, I’m going to join the fire department. The day after she graduated from high school, I got an application.”
Lisa Kaplan has been living out her childhood dream for 14 years. She’s a volunteer firefighter for the town of Orange.
“It truly feels like another family,” Kaplan said.
Usually, she’s the one responding in an emergency. But it was that second family that helped her when she needed it most.
“I hear my phone go off, I hear a tone, and I go to look at it,” Kaplan said. “I stopped in my tracks. I see it’s the address of my home.”
Kaplan’s home caught fire on Aug. 13. She, her husband and dog were away at the time of the blaze.
“My brothers and sisters in the fire department stayed to help with the cleanup and boarded up the house,” Kaplan said. “It was humbling to have so many people knowing they were behind me.”
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
“In the area of origin, we’ve determined that there’s an appliance that’s there,” Orange Fire Marshal Jamie Vincent said. “We were lucky the homeowner had another appliance much like what was there, a dehumidifier, that we were able to check and run through the Consumer Product Safety Commission.”
“The lead investigator for this actually did the background and determined it may be subject to a recall, so we left it for the insurance company to have their engineers go through it to see if it in fact was the cause,” Vincent said.
Both Vincent and Kaplan are encouraging everyone to keep tabs on the devices and appliances in their own homes to ensure they’re staying on top of possible recalls.
“You can search the recall list by product type, manufacturer, and by date,” Vincent said.
It’s also important you do your research before buying a product.
“Not only compare the different devices but look at the ratings on them and see if there have been any recalls,” Vincent said. “That should guide you in a better direction and make sure you’re safe.”
As the investigation and cleanup continues, Kaplan is not only spreading awareness but turning this hardship into a way to help others.
“The entire town literally has wrapped their arms around us. They said ‘what can we do, what can we do?'” Kaplan said. “What I really want people to do is donate money to the fire department in the Kaplan fund to buy smoke detectors for people who can’t afford or don’t have them. We will install them.”
Giving back to the community that’s given her family support, love, and kindness during this difficult time.
“Their loss is actually someone else’s gain,” said Fire Chief Vaughan Dumas, of the Orange Volunteer Fire Department. “It’s very selfless of them and not surprising at all,” Orange Fire Chief Vaughan Dumas said.
If you’re interested in donating, you can Venmo the Orange Volunteer Fire Department @OrangeFD or mail a check to the Orange Volunteer Fire Department’s address at PO Box 878, Orange, CT 06477.