Homeland insecurity: Customs delays firefighters while hotel burns

Some Québec firefighters tried to help save a burning building. They didn’t get there in time. Why? US customs.

Six volunteer firefighters rushing to assist a small-town fire department in upper New York State, part of a long-standing mutual-aid agreement, were held up while being grilled about their identification by a U.S. Customs official this week….Meanwhile, the landmark Anchorage Inn in Rouses Point, N.Y., burned to the ground.“I’ve been crossing this border for 30 years, and the only question we were ever asked was: ‘Where’s the fire?’” Lacolle fire chief Jean-Pierre Hébert told The Globe and Mail Wednesday.

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1 Comment

  1. No matter how you slice it, this was a stupid move. You can bet Rouses Point will become a familiar name in the upcoming presidential election.

    I may not have been reading the huge number of internet articles closely – did this occur at the VERY large Champlain border crossing or at the Rouses Point border crossing (about a mile from the restaurant) ? Having lived in Rouses Point for many years, the much smaller crossing (handles only a total of two cars at once), can let you can proceed through quickly. The size of the Champlain crossing is directly proportional to the red tape and confusion – just too many cooks stirring the soup. Obviously this delay would NOT have happened with the two or three agents that staff each shift in Rouses Point. A big structure, in their own village, a mile away, engulfed in flames would probably have had one of the Customs agents waving the trucks through and hopping on to help fight the fire. We are a town of 2000 people and many citizens are volunteer fire fighters. If the agents thought they needed verification that there actually was a fire, they could have walked down the street to the fire station – a distance equivalent to the length of a football field. This is why I prefer living in small town America – the beaucracy is minimal and flexible!

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