Friday, December 25, 2009

December 25, 2009 -- Christmas Day Response for San Jose Fire

"Twas the night before Christmas, and the Fire Associates members were all snug in their beds, when the San Jose Fire Department called for our aid."

That was the story at 2:03 A.M. on Dec. 25, when FASCV was paged to a condo fire at 510 Branham Lane East. Rumor on scene had it that Santa had spotted a column of smoke while making his rounds and called it in. Don Gilbert leapt out of bed and responded in Support Unit 2. He was met on scene by three of the FASCV elves -- John Whitaker, Mike Chappell and Ron Green.

The fire was burning a row of condos with the only access road being a wide driveway between the row of units. The first responding firefighters quickly initiated an interior attack, looking for possible occupants. It turned out that the residents were away for the day -- visiting relatives for the holiday.

Temperatures were in the mid-30s, and frost was evident on cars parked in the area. But, the FASCV members
"...spoke not a word, and went straight to their work."

Fire crews initially rehydrated with water and Gatorade, but hot coffee soon was in demand to help fight off the early-morning chill. Being Christmas Eve, it was very appropriate that FASCV was serving fresh-ground, Starbuck's "Christmas Blend" beans.

After all the crews had been served, Support Unit 2 was released at 4:15 A.M.
"...and away they all flew like the down of a thistle. But we heard Don exclaim, 'ere he drove out of sight...Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"

Thursday, December 24, 2009

December 24, 2009 -- Christmas Eve Response for Cal Fire

Shortly before 1:25 A.M. on the morning of Christmas Eve, John Whiteside got a very strange phone call. He received a direct call from Cal Fire dispatch in Morgan Hill requesting FASCV aid at a fire west of Gilroy. Usually, a page is sent out from Sonitrol, but, this time, Cal Fire was calling directly. It seems that, since John is a VIP volunteer with Cal Fire, a Cal Fire Battalion chief was specifically calling John for our help. It was a very cold morning and he did not have any other rehab resources.

John Whiteside responded in Support Unit 2 to the incident at 5165 Redwood Retreat Road deep in the hills west of Gilroy. The structure was an old ranch-style home that looked like it had be added onto on more than one occasion. The first-in engine companies made a very good stop on what was potentially a very destructive fire. As fires go, this was not a very large incident, but, FASCV help was needed because of the sub-32 degree temperatures. John was met on scene by Mike Chappell and John Whitaker. Hot coffee was in great demand!

The Support Unit was released from service at 4:15 A.M.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

December 16, 2009 -- 2nd-Alarm Response for San Jose Fire

On Wednesday morning, December 16, San Jose Fire called for Fire Associates aid. The page for help was sent out at 2:16 A.M. and John Whiteside responded in Support Unit 2 to 158 Avenida Espana. He was met on scene by John Whitaker and later joined by FASCV members Jerry Haag and Mike Chappell.

Located just off Santa Teresa Blvd., in the extreme southern portion of San Jose, the 2-alarm fire consumed most of a one-story residence. The home was occupied by an elderly couple and their middle-aged son. The mother and father escaped the inferno, but their son did not. Initial reports indicated that he had initially made it out of the structure and possibly went back in, but that has not been confirmed as of this writing.

FASCV members were kept busy providing hot coffee on a cold and windy morning. Eventually, a light rain began to fall -- just enough to help make the morning more cold and miserable. Along about 4:00 A.M., FASCV was instructed to order 30 breakfast burritos for emergency personnel on scene. The challenge was to find a place open at that hour that could provide the meals. A 24-hr. Jack-in-the-Box, located several miles away, fit the bill. Meals were then picked up and served.

Support Unit 2 was released at approximately 6:15 A.M.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

December 12, 2009 -- 2nd-Alarm Response in Sunnyvale

On December 12, at a little after 8:00 P.M., the Sunnyvale Department of Pubic Safety called for Fire Associates' support. The call was for a 2nd-alarm fire burning in a single-family residence at 731 Shasta Fir Drive. Bob Gundrum responded in Support Unit 1. He was joined on scene by Jerry Haag, Ron Green, Len Williams and guest, Dan Wong. Jerry has provided this report:

Date: 12 Dec. 2009
Time: 1915 initial fire dispatch, 2002 Sonitrol dispatch, 2005 arrival, released at 2200.
Type: Structure fire
Size: Second alarm
Jurisdiction: Sunnyvale
Location: 731 Shasta Fir Dr.

Details: Single-story dwelling. Engine 2 first on scene on A side. Engine 4 covered C side from Sequoia Drive. Ultimately, E-2 supplied six handlines and a 5" supply to Truck 1's elevated master stream. Two persons and a dog displaced.

Units in attendance:
SNY: E-1, 2, 3, 4, 30, 40; T-1, 2; R-2; Med-7; and Batt. 3 (Pitts)
MTV and SNC provided station coverage.

Responding Members: Gundrum (driver), Green, Haag, Williams, Wong (guest)
Fire Support Unit Responding: FSU-1

Remarks: It was a cold, rainy night.

Interesting addendum to this story from Len Williams:

Sunnyvale responded around 4:45 or 5:00 a.m. today (Tues., Dec. 15) to a re-kindle on the 2nd-alarm house fire from Sat. night.

I talked to Bob Gundrum a few minutes ago, and he said that the house had
steel shingles, put on over the original wood shingle roof. No wonder it
was such a hot fire!

The re-kindle didn't amount to much, since Engine 2 was going back in
service around 1/2 hr. later when I got up.


Sunday, December 6, 2009

December 6, 2009 -- 3rd-Alarm Response for San Jose Fire

Early Sunday morning, Dec. 6, SJFD called for Fire Associates assistance at a 3rd-alarm fire west of downtown. FSU #2 with John Whiteside responded to the 2:14 A.M. call at 150 S. Montgomery. Don Gilbert later joined in the effort. John has submitted this report:

Large, single-story modular offices of a security company on Los Gatos Creek side of Autumn Street -- between Park Ave. and W. San Fernando Street. From discussions, apparently homeless folks used a portable BBQ as a warming fire behind a minivan near the front of building’s entrance area. A small tree ignited and spread to the building. Seems that only 1 unit suffered interior damage.

The second page (indicating that I was responding) came out 5 minutes after the request page. As I was leaving home, I heard the IC ask about FASCV’s status and dispatch said they didn’t know. I immediately used my HT and told them I was enroute to Station 6 to get the rig with a 15-min. ETA. This was later relayed to the IC with other traffic. I left Station 6 at 0258 hrs.

On arrival, Med 30 was very happy to see me. Temps were in the low 30s. There were multiple companies in rehab, and many wanted Gatorade or coffee. It took awhile to set everything up and get the coffee going. Later, Don arrived after waking up to low battery tones on his pager and seeing the dispatch. We were released near 0545.

The fire had the potential of growing in size and the weather was cold, which may have contributed to the multi-alarm response. It was B shift on duty.