Fired for extinguishing a fire

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When child care worker Michelle Hammack briefly left her classroom of sleeping kids to extinguish a fire in the adjacent room, she might have expected to be hailed as a hero for preventing serious damage and injury, but the teacher was fired for leaving the children in her care unattended.

Hammack, who works for Little Temples Childcare in Arlington, smelled something burning and went to investigate. She found a small fire in the oven next door: “I just leaned over and peeked around into the kitchen and there was a fire in the oven,” she told WTEV’s Action News. “I ran in there and opened it to try and put it out, and the fire alarm started going off.”

The teacher then ran back to her classroom, woke the children from their nap, and took them outside. While another teacher conducted a head count, she ran inside to ensure that no one had been left behind. At the same time, she saw that the oven fire was small enough to put out herself and did so.

But instead of being praised for her swift actions she was fired hours later.

Hammack’s employer insists that she had proper grounds for doing so because the teacher shouldn’t have abandoned the kids, no matter what the reason. “I fired her only because she left her room,” Olga Rozhaov told WTEV-TV. “It’s not acceptable, and if anybody else does the same thing, I will fire again. I will fire them. No question.”

Hammack, on the other hand, believes that the fire would have escalated had she not put it out so quickly.

The good news for the child care worker is that a petition in her favour has emerged on The Petition Site. The petition aims ‘To right the wrong that was done to Michelle Hammack’ and has received 252 of the goal of 1,000.

The petition has attracted signatures from as far afield as Romania.

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