Saturday, January 28, 2012

Fire Associates On Scene for 10 Hrs. In Milpitas

Before noon, on a sunny Saturday morning, FASCV received a request for support from the Milpitas Fire Department. They were dealing with a trench collapse on a construction site at 814 Calaveras Ridge Drive, and were anticipating an extended operation. Bruce Dembecki responded with Fire Support Unit 2 and arrived on scene around 12:15pm. He was met on scene by FASCV member Ron Green and his wife, Barbara, and was later joined by FASCV member Mike Chappell.     
Workers were on scene and working on the site, including near a retaining wall. The wall collapsed, trapping one worker in a trench. Arriving firefighters were confronted with a mountain of unstable dirt above the area where the worker was trapped, and bravely made access to the area where the worker was trapped. Once they reached the worker, they discovered there was nothing they could do to help him, and withdrew from the area to work out a safe recovery plan.

Investigators from Cal OSHA, Milpitas PD and the Santa Clara County Coroner's office were called to the scene. While investigators did their work, fire department officials were working on recovery options. The operation continued throughout the warm afternoon and cold drinks were popular at the Rehab section. As we transitioned to evening operations, the temperature dipped and FSU-2 switched into hot drink mode -- serving coffee and hot chocolate to workers on the scene. FSU-2's lighting capabilities also contributed to lighting the scene, along with the light tower on MFD USAR 1.

By 10:00pm, it was determined the threat of further collapse of the loose dirt was too dangerous to continue the operation and operations were suspended for the evening. The plan for Sunday is to cover the worker with a concrete box and use an excavator to pull the piles of dirt down, rendering the area safe. Once the collapse threat is removed the excavator crews will be able to dig around the concrete box and complete the recovery operation. Milpitas Police Department will remain on scene overnight, and the Milpitas Fire Department will monitor the operation on Sunday for safety.

-- Report submitted by Bruce Dembecki