I like Guy Morin, the city's building official. He's a decent, fairminded fellow. He recently took a bad fall at home, which resulted in a lot of missed work. He's back on the job now and was good-natured enough to talk with me about it. Here's a story I wrote for today's Press:
City Building Official Guy Morin learned too late to take a ladder seriously.
Morin, who recently came back to his City Hall office after seven weeks recuperating from a bad fall, said he made the mistake of not paying attention while standing on a 27-foot ladder at his house.
“I was cleaning the gutters out,” said Morin. “I was almost done.”
But the ladder slipped out of his reach, slid along the fascia board of his house and he fell 14 feet down, landing on mulch and ground cover.
“You don’t have to be up that high to get hurt,” said Morin.
He dislocated the bones in his foot and his tendons became entangled, requiring surgery.
“I was just hanging in midair. I came down on my left foot,” said Morin. “It was like Chevy Chase in ‘Christmas Vacation,’ without the lights.”
Morin, who said he was right in front of his picture window when he fell, said his wife was inside at the time.
“She heard the ladder slide. She looked up and I was dropping,” he said. “We laugh about it now. At the time, she was upset.”
His injury kept him in the hospital for three days, said Morin, in bed for two weeks and out of work for almost two months.
He’s got three screws in his bones and now wears a walking boot for support, but hopes to get out of it soon.
“It’s still a little swollen,” said Morin. “I’m just happy that I’ll be able to walk again. I was pretty lucky.”
He said he’s acquired a couple unwanted nicknames: “Gimpy” and “Hopalong.”
“I’m ready to get rid of those,” said Morin.
After becoming chief building official three years ago, Morin said he stopped the common practice of Bristol’s inspectors climbing up on ladders to check out a roof.
“We do that on a very limited basis now,” said Morin. “Most of the time, the ladders weren’t that safe. I didn’t want anybody hurt.”
Most residential roofs can be inspected from the ground, said Morin, because nearly all are slanted and visible. Commercial roofs are more often flat, and accessible from a door, he said.
When inspectors do have to go up on a ladder, said Morin, they make sure the ladder can carry their weight and that someone below is holding the ladder steady.
Morin sees the irony in his own mishap.
“I grew up on ladders. I just got too complacent,” he said. “I knew it wasn’t up there securely, but I went up there anyway.”
The accident left Morin hurting – but not crying, he said – and with one more household task to finish: selling that ladder.