Nero Fiddled While Rome Burned

FIDDLING WHILE ROME BURNS - Nero was the fifth of the Roman Emperors. He reigned for 14 years, from 54 to 68 A.D., with the official name Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus.

According to the "Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings" by Gregory Y. Titelman, "Nero fiddled while Rome burned" refers to "heedless and irresponsible behavior in the midst of a crisis. In fact, the legend that Nero "fiddled" while Rome burned itself began centuries after Nero's time, in referring to how Nero fiddled away his time on frivolous pursuits. As a noun, "fiddle" came to refer to a violin, but as a verb, "fiddle" originally meant either to avoid one's responsibilities, or to commit fraud.

"Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins" has some additional information. Nero seems to have been something less than all bad. For one thing, he was a pioneer in what we would now call 'urban renewal.' He planned to rebuild much of Rome and ran into a lot of trouble with property owners who resented his condemnation proceedings.

Broadway At Rose Street

Unfortunately, Lenoir City could be on it's way to it's very own version of the great Roman fire. According to documents obtained from LCUB, more than 100 fire hydrants in and around Lenoir City have been classified as dead or inadequate for fire suppression. (Click Here For List) Some have even been covered with garbage bags. According to the State Fire Marshal's office and the Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS), as of January 1, 2006, any fire hydrant failing to meet certain flow specifications can no longer be connected directly to a pumper fire truck.
(Click Here For MTAS Bulletin).

Broadway At Grand Street

Almost unnoticed, the lowly fire plug stands unused for most of it's life, but just knowing the fire plugs are there should give us a certain level of comfort and security not to mention lower rates on our home owners insurance premiums.  Unfortunately the very fire plug you think would be used in the event of a fire emergency at your home or business may not even work. One thing is certain, insurance requirements state that adequate water flows, 500gpm/20 residual psi, must be available within 1,000 feet of structures to provide full credit for fire hydrants. If not, insurance premiums will skyrocket. The International Standards Organization or ISO has determined that in most instances within the city, the fire flow need could be more than doubled the 500gpm requirement. (Click Here For ISO Data)

Brookshire can not take all the credit for this one. It took him, the council and LCUB officials all working together to create this mess. The fire department is doing the very best they can given the circumstances. But the LCFD are the ones who, in an emergency, have to work with the inadequate fire hydrants.

LCUB and City officials are well aware of the low flow fire hydrant problems and will in the near future have to take steps to correct the problems. In fact phase one of the upgrade is already underway. Many may have noticed the utility construction along Rock Springs Road and Forth Ave. It has been a mess with all the rain. Seems that phase one is designed to supply greater water flow to the Second and Third Avenue or Horseshoe Bend area of the city to assure adequate water supply for the fire hydrants in that area. Coincidently, this also just happens to be the the same neighborhood where Mayor Brookshire resides.

Apparently, with all the areas in and around the city in need of water service up grades for fire protection, the mayor's neighborhood comes first. Surely the LCUB power board voted on this project before it was started. It's not to say that this area wasn't in need of the upgrade, but who decided which area of town gets the upgrades first.

Sources within LCUB who wish to remain anonymous have stated that Fred Nelson, LCUB general manager and the mayor's father-in-law, made it clear that he wanted the upgrades in that area for the safety of his grandchildren. You can't blame him for that, but I'm sure there are others grandchildren also in need of proper fire protection.

The real tragedy of this story is back where it started. Apparently like Nero, Mayor Brookshire and the city council members have been fiddling while the safety and security of the citizens is and has been at stake. The city will have a new swimming pool, miles of walking trails and the buildings on Broadway will look nice on the outside, but this is comparatively insignificant when compared with a life safety issue such as inadequate fire protection. It should be fair for all the citizens who are currently at risk to expect the same swift water system upgrades as has been provided to the mayor.












Phase One

Rock Springs

Rock Springs

4th Ave.

Grand St.

3rd Ave.