Monday, March 29, 2010

March 28-29, 2010 -- Three Calls within 12 Hours!

As a "crazy-busy" March approached its end, Fire Associates had a very busy 12 hours. Whether the full moon overhead later in the evening was responsible or not, three calls for service from three different departments kept the group very active. Here are the details:

Response #1 - 2-Alarm Mobile Home Fire in San Jose

At 3:56 in the afternoon, a lazy Sunday afternoon turned very busy. San Jose Fire paged Fire Associates for a 2-alarm inferno burning in a mobile home. Located in the Casa Alondra Mobile Home Park at 5450 Monterey Road, a unit on Calle Pintada was completely destoyed by a fast moving fire. Responding in Support Unit 2 were Bruce Dembecki and John Whiteside. They were joined by FASCV members Jerry Haag, Mike Chappell and John Whitaker along with guest, Dan Wong. Bruce has provided this report:

At 3:57 P.M., March 28th, San Jose Fire Department paged Fire Associates to respond to a second-alarm fire in a trailer park at 5450 Monterey Hwy., San Jose. The fire had originally been reported around 2:35 P.M. and, upon arrival, San Jose's bravest were confronted with flames bursting from three sides of the double-wide, and three injured residents waiting outside for medical attention. One of the firefighters also received burn injuries. With so many injuries, and fire raging in the tight confines of the trailer park, a second alarm was called. Firefighters managed to prevent damage to the various exposures, while the mobile home was a total loss.

The fire was directed by Incident Commander B/C Keesling (Battalion 13) and B/C Alvarado (Battalion 21), together with B/C Juan Diaz as Safety Officer. Units on scene included first-due Engine 35, Engines 18, 27 & 12, Trucks 18, 16 and 313, Rescue Medic 18, Light Units 18 and 16, along with the HIT units, and of course, Fire Support 2!

Bruce Dembecki and John Whiteside in Fire Support 2 left SJFD Station 6 around 4:15 P.M. to head to the fire scene, and were met on scene by John Whitaker, later joined by Jerry Haag, Mike Chappell and Fire Associates' guest, Dan Wong. Cold drinks, particularly lemonade, were the order of the day on a rather warm early spring day. FSU 2 was refueled, restocked and back in quarters at Station 6 by 7:15 P.M.
Response #2 - 1-Alarm Active Structure Fire in Mt. View

Then, at 4:51 P.M., while FASCV members were busy at the San Jose fire, Jerry Haag received a phone message from FASCV member Len Williams. Not knowing that Jerry was in San Jose, Len was giving a "heads-up" that there was a working structure fire in Mountain View. Jerry decided to leave the San Jose incident and head back to the north county area in the event Mountain View should pull a second alarm.

The second alarm never happened, but Jerry drove to the scene just in case service was needed and has submitted this report:

Date and Time: 28 March, 1651 hours (based on Len's call)
Address: Middlefield Rd. and Shoreline Blvd., Mountain View

Details: Fire in a 6-unit garage in a condo complex. Fire started in a BMW, quickly spread to the attic over the garage. Damage held to two garages by effective attack and fire stops in the attic. I made a "voluntary response" and the water I carry with me was welcomed by all.

Responder: Haag (in own vehicle)

Response #3 - 2-Alarm Response for Santa Clara County Fire

Finally, at 3:42 A.M. on March 29th, almost exactly 12 hours after the first call, Santa Clara County Fire requested FASCV's services at a fire in Campbell. Located at 871 E. Hamilton, some pallets were burning in a confined area in amongst a complex of offices, warehouses and former retail space. The fire's location was so "hidden", that the actual material that was burning could not be seen from outside any of the incident's four sides. First-arriving units saw the fire, though. Initial reports had the flames leaping to 40 feet and visible from the Hwy. 17 freeway.

Responding in Support Unit 2 were Don Gilbert and Bruce Dembecki. They were joined by Mike Chappell, Jerry Haag, George Hoyt and John Whitaker. Rehab was established along the curb on Hamilton Ave., just west of Bascom Ave. In the "middle of the night", firefighters were very appreciative of the donuts, coffee and cold drinks provided by Fire Associates.

As the Support Unit was put back into service around 6:45 A.M., everyone was in full agreement that it had definitly been a full-moon kind of 12 hours.

Friday, March 26, 2010

March 25, 2010 -- 3rd-Alarm Fire In San Jose

On Thursday morning, Mar. 25, at 4:04 A.M., Fire Associates was paged for support by the San Jose Fire Department. This time, a duplex was on fire at 2292 Freya Dr. -- on the corner of Aborn Rd. in the city's Evergreen district. A pre-fire Google Maps Street View of the structure can be viewed at this link: Freya Dr. Don Gilbert arrived in Support Unit 2 and was met on scene by John Whitaker, Mike Chappell, Jerry Haag and guest, Dan Wong.

First-due Engine companies found a fence fire that had spread up the wall of the duplex and moved into the attic space. As a Truck company went to the roof to start ventilation, firefighters below tried to gain entry to the residence and garage space. The word "tried" is used, because (once again) the house, garage and narrow side yard was full of stored items. Making the attack even more difficult, the attic had been lined with heavy plywood which increased the access difficulties. Command staff tried to keep the fire at a 2nd-alarm level, but the crews became too exhausted to keep up with the access efforts. A 3rd alarm was called for fresh manpower.

With Freya Drive being just a narrow access road to the series of duplexes, most of the fire rigs were spread out in the middle of Aborn Rd. -- including Rehab. At this location, Aborn Rd. is a 6-lane roadway that provides access to Capital Expresway and the U.S. 101 freeway for the many homes in the primarily residential area. The road was completely shut down throughout the early commute hours. Support Unit 2 provided the weary firefighters with hot coffee, cold drinks and the usual Clif Bar "breakfast". We were released at approx. 7:30 A.M.

  • John's photos can be viewed at: Freya Drive Fire

  • A San Jose Mercury-News story can be read at: 2 Fires in One Day

  • A KTVU news story and video can be viewed at: Firefighters Climb Clutter

March 19, 2010 -- 2nd-Alarm Fire in Sunnyvale

On Friday afternoon, Mar. 19, Fire Associates responded to the second call of the day. At 4:34 P.M., the Sunnyvale Public Safety Dept. called for our help at a 2nd-alarm fire located at 1026 Robin Way. Bob Gundrum responded to the call in Support Unit 1. FASCV member Jerry Haag has submitted this report:

Date: 19 Mar. 2010
Time: 1634 dispatch.
Type: Structure fire

Size: Second alarm

Jurisdiction: Sunnyvale
Location: 1026 Robin Way

Details: Single-story dwelling. Engine 3 first on scene supplied five handlines, provided own 5" water supply from nearby hydrant assisted by Engine 30. First line to D side to protect exposure.

Units in attendance:
SNY E-1, 3, 4, 6, 30, 40; T-1, 2; R-2; Med-8, Batt. 1 (Carrion-IC), Batt. 10

Responding Members: Gundrum (driver), Green, Haag, Williams, Hoyt, Dembecki, Wong (guest)

Fire Support Unit Responding: FSU-1

Remarks: Len Williams was first on-scene.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

March 19, 2009 -- 2nd-Alarm Response for San Jose Fire

At 5:30 A.M. on Friday morning, Mar. 19, the San Jose Fire Dept. called for support from Fire Associates. The fire was located at 1579 Keesling Ave., near the intersection of Hamilton and Meridian Ave. Don Gilbert responded in Support Unit 2.

SJFD Station 6, the home base for Support 2, was located approx. 4 miles away. Don could almost have announced, "Support Unit 2 enroute...and on scene!" He was joined by FASCV members John Whitaker, Mike Chappell, George Hoyt, and Jerry Haag.

The 2nd-alarm structure fire involved a single-story house that had a very high fuel load. Upon opening the garage door, firefighters were faced with a space stuffed to the rafters. Once inside the residence, firefighters found a similar heavy fuel load. The high fuel load, difficult access and a handicapped occupant necessitated the multiple alarms.

Monday, March 15, 2010

March 14, 2010 -- 2nd Alarm Fire in Cupertino

At 1:19 P.M. on Sunday, March 14, Santa Clara County Fire paged Fire Associates for a 2nd alarm response at 778 Sharmon Palms Lane in Campbell. Bruce Dembecki responded with Fire Support Unit 2. On scene, Bruce was joined by Jerry Haag, John Whitaker and Cliff Smith. Bruce has sumitted the following report:

Bruce left SJFD Station 6 at 1:45 P.M. and reporting to scene around 2:00 P.M. Upon arrival, Jerry Haag was already working with the IC to determine the location for Rehab. Fire Associates set up a Rehab center with plenty of water, Gatorade and lemonade on the warm, spring-like Sunday afternoon. Donuts were also served and proved to be quite popular.

The fire originated in the downstairs, rear apartment of a four-apartment block. The building was well alight when firefighters first arrived on scene and the building was a total loss. The fire apparently started when a resident lost control of a cooking fire, spilling oil on the burners which then spread. Four families were displaced and the Red Cross was on scene to help them all find alternative accommodations.

Shortly after Fire Associates arrived, the IC (B/C
Carol Miller) was making a lunch plan for the large crew on scene. Fire Associates president, John Whitaker, was dispatched from the scene to picked up 40 sandwiches from a nearby Togo's. By the end of the afternoon, all the sandwiches, 4 cases of water, 3 cases of Gatorade and 4 dozen donuts were gone. Fire Associates was released from the scene at 5:00 P.M. and FSU 2 was restocked and awaiting the next call by 5:45 P.M.

County Fire crews on scene included Engines 3, 8, 9, 10, 11; Trucks 1 and 5; Rescue 3 and 17;
Hazmat 2; and Breathing Support 2;. The incident was managed by Battalions 3 (Parker), 2 (Miller) & 14 (Prziborowski), Duty Safety Officer (Captain Rapport) along with the Duty Investigator (Davis).

Friday, March 12, 2010

March 10, 2010 -- A Two-Response Day for Fire Associates

Response #1 - Special Call for Hazmat Incident

A little before Noon on Wed., Mar. 10, Santa Clara Fire had a Hazmat incident at the De Anza College swim center. Jerry Haag responded in Support Unit 1 and was joined by Ron Green. Jerry has submitted this brief report:

Special Call -- 11:54 A.M., 10 Mar. 2010
Stelling Rd. & Pepper Tree Lane

DeAnza College Swimming Pool

Hazardous Material (Chlorine) Incident

Fire Support Unit 1, Haag and Green

Response #2 - 4-Alarm Fire in City of Santa Clara

Only 50 minutes later, Santa Clara City Fire paged Fire Associates for help in their city. At 12:41 P.M., our services were requested at 705 Reed Street. If that address seems familiar, it should. This is the site of ECS Refining -- where we have responded three times in the last 3 years. Responding for Fire Associates in Support Unit 2 was John Whiteside. He has submitted the following report:

March 10, Santa Clara 4th alarm on Reed, cross of Lafayette. Electronic recycling facility. Heavy black smoke seen readily from South San Jose.
With FSU #1 already committed to County Fire's DeAnza College’s HazMat incident, I confirmed via phone with Jerry and said FSU #2 would handle this call. At 1315 hrs., Bruce Dembecki and I took Support Unit 2 and were met on scene by Bob Gundrum, Mike Chappell, Rick James and George Hoyt.

We set up and provided cool liquids and CLIF bars. A few hours later, FSU #1 (with Jerry Haag and Ron Green) arrived from the DeAnza call. SNC provided Togo's sandwiches about 1630 and those of us who had had no lunch really enjoyed them.
San Jose Fire and County Fire units were on scene.

A fourth alarm was called and staged at SNC's Station 2 for city coverage. They were mostly County rigs with either SVL or MTV providing one truck.