Gainesville firefighters review 'This is Us' fire escape scene, provide safety tips


The NBC show “This is Us” has taken the country by storm with over 40 million viewers on Super Bowl Sunday alone.

Most viewers would say the most memorable scene would be the severe house fire. Gainesville Fire Rescue says it’s important to note that this is Hollywood and most of the tactics used to escape this house fire were horribly wrong.

“The show is depicted I believe back in the 80s,” said Mike Cowart of Gainesville Fire Rescue. “Which we know a lot more than they knew then so there are a lot of things we can do first of all to prevent the fire from happening. We also know different ways of how to plan to escape from your home in an emergency like this.”

To start the scene, Jack sees and smells smoke. He immediately grabs the handle and opens the door.

“Before you even open it you always want to feel with the back of your palm from the bottom to the top of the door for any heat,” said firefighter Marie Goltara. “If you open with the door handle, it can burn your hand.”

As soon as someone opens a door, they introduce oxygen to the fire allowing it to spread further, Cowart said.

Before Jack goes to get his daughter Kate from her room, his wife Rebecca soaks a towel to put over Kate to protect her from the fire.

“Putting a wet towel over you isn’t actually going to protect you from the fire,” Goltara said. “It’s just going to turn the water into steam and then it’s going to give you steam burns.”

Just as the wet towel is a terrible idea, the firefighters say blocking the fire with a mattress is just as bad.

“Going into that fire with a mattress, it’s heavy, it’s flammable, it’ll tire you out by the time you get 20 feet outside your door,” said paramedic Alexander Cowart. “The best thing to do in that situation if you have to escape through that area, stay low and move as quickly as possible.”

The verdict? Gainesville Fire Rescue says instead of maneuvering to the different bedrooms, it would be best for everyone to keep their bedroom doors closed and escape out of their windows. Then, help each other from outside the home.

“Pretty much anywhere you are located in Gainesville, we can get there in five minutes,” Cowart said. “So even if you can’t get yourself out of the window, shut the door, put some towels down around the door, and just get low and wait and we’ll be coming as long as you can call 911.”

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