Verizon: There Was No Fire. Fire Department: Yes, There Was A Fire.

We’re feeling philosophical this morning after being confronted with two very different accounts of what went on at a small house on Pine Grove Street in Needham, Mass. Was there a fire? Was there not a fire? What is the definition of fire, anyway?

After the Needham Times reported a small electrical fire that caused a blackout on August 8, the story was picked by Paul McNamara at Networkworld. Verizon PR-guro John Bonomo left the following comment on Paul’s site:

“Unfortunately, (the fire) story differs quite a bit from the version of the Verizon staffers on the scene. Here it is: One of our new techs was installing a triple play at a Needham home (they’re selling like hotcakes, btw). When drilling a hole for the Optical Network Terminal, he accidentally hit an electrical wire, knocking out power to the house. Our bad, but no smoke, and no fire. Out of an overabundance of caution (always a good thing) the local fire department was called. The FD cut a hole in side of house where the drilling took place to expose the area and check for a fire. There was none.”

He also sent a similar message to Steven Ryan, the reporter at the Needham Times who wrote the original story. So, there wasn’t really a fire? What about that quote from the Deputy Fire Chief of Needham? When Paul from Networkworld called about “the fire” the DFC, Al DeIulio, told Paul that the Verizon tech was “lucky he’s not dead.” Wait, so he didn’t actually say: “Yes, Paul. There was a fire.” The mystery deepens.

Steven Ryan, reporter from the Needham Times, has done some additional fact checking. This is what he reports:

Verizon insists there was no fire, but the fire department stands by their account. “If there’s flames, there’s fire,” said Deputy Chief Al DeIulio

So was there a fire? We don’t know. What we do know is that Steven Ryan, Paul McNamara, and Deputy Fire Chief Al DeIulio probably have a pretty serious case of “Verizon Face” right about now.

UPDATE: From Paul @ Network World:

(Update: We have another eye-witness account, albeit second hand. An acquaintance tells me that he lives in the vicinity of Pine Grove Street and that his wife reports being there as the incident unfolded … and seeing smoke.)

(Update 2: We now have an official statement from the fellow’s wife: “I was one of 50 people there watching gray smoke billowing from the electric meter panel.” … Seems like game, set, match.)

Verizon vs. the Needham Fire Department [Networkworld]
If there’s flames, there’s fire [Needham Times]
(Photo:nomad)

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