Editorial: A thank you to first responders and WFU administration

The Winston-Salem Fire Department played a crucial role in containing the fire.

Courtesy of Wake Forest

The Winston-Salem Fire Department played a crucial role in containing the fire.

Editorial Staff

The fire that started at the Winston-Salem Weaver Fertilizer plant on Jan. 31 elicited a period of danger and concern and shed light on various environmental and social concerns. However, the brave and admirable actions of those in the Winston-Salem community who responded to the fire should be recognized.

Primary recognition should go to the first responders, who worked diligently to prevent what could have been one of the “biggest explosions in U.S. history,” according to Fire Chief Trey Mayo. Many have praised the Winston-Salem Fire Department and other Piedmont Triad fire departments that came to assist with their “textbook” handling of the fire. On the campus of Wake Forest, the engineering faculty and the EPA Emergency Response Team conducted important work by monitoring the air quality on campus and determining that while not optimal, the air was safe to breathe.

Additionally, Student Government’s leadership during a time of uncertainty was invaluable. We are grateful for the information Student Government consistently provided and for their commitment to representing and channeling the student voice.

Finally, we extend our gratitude for the work done by the administration throughout this difficult week. The university assembled a team of essential experts, who were able to disseminate helpful information to the student body about the fire. We also appreciate the administration’s commitment to listening to its students, and that it heard their concerns when extreme frustration was expressed.

In the aftermath of the fire, we will commit to covering more angles of last week’s events with the benefit of hindsight, time and careful consideration to provide engaging long-form journalism. There are many issues of environmental inequity within the Winston-Salem community that this fire has uncovered. The Old Gold & Black is fully invested in the reporting of these events and structural problems. In the meantime, we would like to raise awareness of the following resources for students as they return to classes:

TimelyCare, which provides free mental health services to students through text and video chat modalities.

The Office of Residence Life and Housing, per sources, is providing reimbursement for those who had to evacuate to hotels because of the fire.

For those who spent more than they could afford on off-campus food and housing and cannot find alternative reimbursement, the Chaplain’s Fund is available as a resource.

We encourage students, faculty and staff, especially those at the center of last week’s events, to give themselves grace as we return to normal campus operations this week.