Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Toxic Chemicals Challenge San Jose Firefighters at Metal Plating Company Blaze

Photo By John Whitaker
In the past few months, San Jose firefighters have responded to a spate of multi-alarm commercial fires all within a two-mile radius. Although not connected, the fires have all proved to be a challenge.
This time, at 12:27 A.M. on Tuesday morning May 19, a caller reported a fire burning in an industrial complex just off Zanker Road near Highway 101. First-arriving crews discovered the blaze burning at Haro's Metal Finishing, Inc. located at 439 Reynolds Circle.
Because of the type of business, efforts to extinguish the fire proved to be difficult. Metal finishing involves lots of toxic chemicals, including cyanide and sulfuric acid. So, the command staff on scene not only had to concentrate on putting out the fire, but they also had to deal with the very toxic water run-off. Eventually, a 4th alarm was called as firefighters had to rotate through decon before they could be rehabbed. The Santa Clara County Hazmat unit joined with San Jose's Hazmat to handle the decontamination of personnel, equipment, hoses, and fire apparatus. Needless to say, it was a mess!
When Fire Associates was summoned to the scene on the 3rd alarm, John Whitaker responded with Fire Support Unit 2 at approximately 12:50 A.M. Upon arrival, the FSU was kept in Staging until the chemical danger had diminished. After approximately 2 hours being held at bay, a rehab area was set up adjacent to the decon location and firefighters were finally able to enjoy some cold drinks and 3 dozen donuts on a chilly and overcast early morning. John was joined on scene by FASCV member Mike Garcia.
The support unit was kept on site until 4:45 A.M. when it was released to return to service.
-- Report submitted by John Whitaker