Sheltering-at-home Blacktip Island residents will have an excuse to get out of their homes Saturday morning when island authorities will conduct an island-wide fire drill. (photo by Wendy Beaufort/BTT staff)
Blacktip Island authorities Thursday announced residents will be required to participate in an island-wide fire drill Saturday while still practicing strict self-isolation protocols.
“People may be in isolation because of this virus situation, but they still need to be prepared for emergencies,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “There’s no fire department on Blacktip, so fire-safety awareness and preparedness is especially important.
“We’ll blow the hurricane warning siren Saturday morning, and everyone will have to stand in their front yards with a functioning garden hose and bucket,” Marquette said. “I’ll be driving around the island to check on compliance, and anyone found not participating or unequipped will be fined on the spot.”
Island officials say the exercise is necessary.
“This is a community-building thing,” island mayor Jack Cobia said. “The point isn’t to fine or harass people, it’s to make sure everyone’s thinking two steps ahead. Neighbors are encouraged to check up on each other and make sure everyone’s properly prepared. And to let us know if anyone’s not.”
Not all residents were happy with the planned drill.
“This’s just gonna get folks spying on each other, making anonymous calls to rat each other out,” James Conlee said. “Blacktip’s not that kind of island. Neighbor’s house catches fire and they’re not ready, I’ll just help them out. I’m not standing in my yard with no bucket. I dare Rafe Marquette to drive all the way out here to check if I am.”
Others downplayed the drill.
“Rafe can blow that siren all he wants. I’ll be sitting inside,” divemaster Lee Helm said. “I already planned to binge watch The Lord of the Rings Saturday, and no daft fire drill’s gonna get me off the divan. There’s 100 plus houses on the island. No way Rafe’s gonna check every one of them.”
Some residents, bored with isolation, welcomed the drill.
“With all the resorts empty, it’s not really needed, but it’ll give everyone something to do,” Christa Goby said. “My neighbors and I are already planning a yard party to coincide with the drill. As soon as the siren goes off, we’ll all gather in our front yards and meet up almost like we used to.
“Me and Gauge Hoase already have lawn chairs and ice chests set up on our lawns,” Goby said. “No law against that. And as long as we each have our hose and bucket, Rafe can’t cite us for anything but public drunkenness.”