One of the duties of a Police Officer is attending the scene of reported fires. There are several reasons for this; the main one being to establish whether or not anything of a criminal nature has taken place. I attended at the scene of many fires during the course of my Police Service and there was one, very minor in nature which I will never forget.
I was patrolling the streets of Trentham and Hanford one day, when I received a radio message directing me to what had been reported as a house fire in New Inn Lane. I arrived at the scene on my trusty bicycle to find that the Fire Brigade, not surprisingly, were already in attendance. The fire was at a cottage in a row of cottages (long since demolished). I made my way to the rear of the premises where all the “action” seemed to be taking place. It transpired that the elderly female occupant of the house had put something in a pan on the stove to cook. She then went out to shop at Masons Shop (on the site of what later became Monopoly and now the Pioneer Co-operative). She forgot all about the pan on the stove which boiled dry and caused rather a lot of smoke to come out of the open kitchen window.
The old lady was still out shopping when the Fire Brigade and myself arrived. By the time she returned home the smoke was clear and the only thing to show for the fire was a rather burnt saucepan and the back door of the cottage lying, complete with its frame, horizontal on the kitchen floor. (The Firemen never mess about when it come to getting inside anywhere!)
When she returned, I explained to the lady what had happened. She was fine until, as it turned out, she spotted the back door and frame on the floor. She burst into tears and was competely inconsolable for several minutes. To start with we could not establish what was upsetting her, then between the sobs it became clear that her problem related to the back door. One of the firemen explained to her that they had had to break the door down to get into the house and unfortunately the frame had gone in as well. Eventually she sobbed ” there was no need to break it down like that”. The fireman very patiently explained that he had had to break it down because it was locked. “no it wasn’t” said the old lady and as she said this she bent down and turned the door knob and began to lift the door upwards. “It opens outwards, not inwards she said.” The fireman was lost for words.