Thursday, December 11, 2014

FASCV Responds to Safeway Roof Collapse

Photo By Bruce Dembecki
On Thursday, December 11, the Bay Area was gripped by a winter storm, known to media in the area as "Stormaggedon". San Jose received over 4 inches of rain in less than 24 hours.
Shortly before 4:00 P.M., word came to San Jose Fire Department that the roof of the Safeway at 1771 E. Capitol Expressway had collapsed into the store, and it was unknown how many people were inside.
Arriving units discovered a large section of roof, initially thought to be over 2,500 square feet, had collapsed into the produce section and across several aisles of groceries. While the staff were accounted for, it was unknown how many customers were in the store and the remaining roof and walls were clearly unstable. The arriving crew called for the USAR Task Force and a full-first structure response. Once on scene, the B/C escalated the incident to a second alarm, plus the USAR Task Force, plus several special-call units.
The San Jose Police Department helicopter, Air 2, was used to assist with the assessment of the building, providing overhead information about the size of the collapse and the condition of the rest of the roof (which included a major crack extending 80 feet from the existing collapse, with several small cracks running off that). Crews cautiously worked to develop a strategy to safely search the interior of the building for any victims.
While the USAR team worked on a search plan, several truck companies examined the roof structure on the adjoining properties in the strip-style mall. Other crews worked to shut off the Safeway sprinkler system which was releasing large amounts of water into the property, and secure gas and electricity lines to the properties.
A Special Call was made to add Fire Associates to the incident, and Bruce Dembecki responded to the scene with Fire Support Unit 2, arriving at 5:45 P.M. Crews were certainly wet, as it was raining heavily all afternoon. The Incident Commander advised that his top priority for Fire Associates was feeding the crews as dinner time was approaching. Bruce set about organizing meal service.
By 6:30 P.M., a primary and secondary search had been conducted and the incident was declared under control. One shopper had received a minor injury during the collapse, but despite the significant damage to the structure and the store contents, the people inside came through largely unscathed.

At 7:00 P.M., Bruce served dinner to hungry fire and EMS crews, and, after securing the property, everyone was released by 9:00 P.M.
-- Report submitted by Bruce Dembecki