Monday, July 26, 2010

July 25, 2010 -- 2nd 3-Alarmer of the Day for SJ Fire

While five members of Fire Associates were busy at a 3-alarm fire on Hamilton Ave., radio traffic for a second 3-alarm fire caught everyone's attention. Smoke was reported pouring out of an apartment at a senior assisted-living complex at 2094 Forest Ave. As soon as it was clear that the new incident was escalating, Jerry Haag, Ron Green and George Hoyt proactively left the Hamilton scene ahead of San Jose Fire's page for assistance. Jerry responded in Support Unit 1, while the others went to the fire scene. They were joined by FASCV's newest member, Dan Wong.

Jerry has submitted this report:

Date: 25 July 2010
Time: 0450 Sonitrol dispatch, 0515 arrival, released at 0630.
Type: Structure Fire
Size: Third alarm
Jurisdiction: San Jose
Location: 2094 Forest Ave.

Details: Fire was in the multi-story Miranda Villa Senior Apartments. It was confined to the room of origin and quickly extinguished. However, smoke spread necessitated the movement of many elderly residents to a place of refuge.

Responding Members: Haag (driver), Green, Hoyt, Wong

Fire Support Unit Responding: FSU-1
  • The San Jose Mercury-News reported:

    "Miranda Villa Senior Apartments in San Jose were evacuated early Sunday after a stovetop fire began in the kitchen of an elderly woman who lived in the assisted living facility. She was taken to a hospital and treated for smoke inhalation. The fire occurred about 4:20 a.m. at the senior apartments, located at 2094 Forest Ave. About 150 residents, most of whom are in their 80s, were evacuated as a safety precaution. A SJFD spokjesperson said residents were let back into the building about 90 minutes after fire crews arrived."
-- Above photo by M. Melligan

Sunday, July 25, 2010

July 25, 2010 -- 3-Alarm Response for San Jose Fire

On Sunday morning, July 25, Fire Associates was paged by the San Jose Fire Department for a 3-alarm apartment house fire. Burning at 1671 Hamilton Ave., the fire unfortunately resulted in the death of a child. Don Gilbert responded in Support Unit 2 and was met on scene by George Hoyt, Jerry Haag, John Whitaker, and Ron Green.

First-due SJ Engine 6 found the first-floor apartment blazing away upon their arrival. The rear windows of the unit were already broken out and flames were shooting out of the front windows. The front of the unit faced an enclosed courtyard, which made access more difficult. The apartment was occupied by a family who was being visited by other family members. The fatality was an 8-year-old girl who did not make it out of the structure.

FASCV set up in a parking lot (adjacent to Ernie's Pool Supply) which was located across from the incident scene. Hot coffee was the drink of preference during the overcast, early-morning hours. Clif Bars were also provided along with donuts supplied by a VTA supervisor and donated by a nearby Safeway supermarket. A VTA bus was brought into the fire scene to provide shelter for the numerous displaced families who called the building home.

Fire Associates was released from service at 7:30 A.M.

Monday, July 19, 2010

July 18, 2010 -- FSU-1 Goes On First Response

Fire Associates members need to mark Sunday, July 18, as a historic day on their calendars. Our new Fire Support Unit 1 made its first run! Although, officially, Friday July 9, was the date of it's first call for service, that run was canceled before any assistance was rendered.

Jerry Haag was the driver on this run and has submitted the following report:

Date: 18 July 2010
Time: 1207 Sonitrol dispatch, 1245 arrival, released at 1545.
Type: Exterior recycled plastics fire endangering a structure and trees
Size: Second alarm
Jurisdiction: City of Santa Clara
Location: 1440 Norman Ave.

Details: Fire in 4x4x4 recycle storage bin threatened large, single-story structure and spread to nearby Eucalyptus trees. Engine 6, first in with Truck 8.

Units in attendance:
SNC: IC-Batt. 1 (Weishauser); E-1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7; T-2, 8; R-2; HM-9
SJS: One engine, one truck for coverage

Responding Members: Jerry Haag (driver), Ron Green, George Hoyt

Fire Support Unit Responding: FSU-1 (first run for new unit)

New Support Unit Put Into Service

On Tuesday, July 6, Fire Associates of Santa Clara Valley took a giant step forward. Our new support unit went into service. Designated "Fire Support Unit 1", the rig is now supporting our North County operations region. Running out of Santa Clara City Fire Department's Station 9, the rig will primarily support the cities of Palo Alto, Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Los Altos, Cupertino, Saratoga and Santa Clara.

The vehicle is a 1997 GMC/Isuzu that once served as a fire/rescue truck. It is powered by a 350 GMC power plant with an automatic transmission. During the last few months, the vehicle has undergone some major modifications at the hands of our Fleet Manager, Don Gilbert. Don has installed a 60-gallon, potable water tank and pump; installed a 5000W Honda generator; repaired interior compartment lighting, modified the center console to receive new radios, and replaced the red lightbar lenses with amber lenses. In addition, new VHF and UHF radios have been installed and new identification lettering and graphics have been applied.

On July 6, FASCV members met to switch out the supplies and equipment from the previous FSU-1. Items like easy-up awnings, misting fans, tables, benches, coolers, coffee percolators and the like were moved onto the new unit. Also added were many boxes of bottled water, powdered lemonade, coffee beans and Clif Bars.

Thank you to all the firefighters who regularly contribute funds to our cause. It is this funding, along with donations from some FASCV members, that made this purchase possible.

Look for this unit to be at the next multi-alarm fire in the north county!
  • Photos of the equipment and supplies change-over: New FSU-1

  • Photos of the new FSU-1: New FSU-1

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

July 5, 2010 -- 6-Alarm at Trace Elementary School

At 4:16 A.M. on Monday, July 5, the San Jose Fire Department received multiple reports a fire inside Trace Elementary School at 651 Dana Ave. in San Jose. Units arrived to find the school well involved. At 4:53 A.M., SJFD paged Fire Associates as the fire went to a 3rd alarm. When Don Gilbert arrived on scene with Fire Support Unit 2 at 5:30 A.M., San Jose was calling for a sixth alarm. Don was met at Station 6 by Bruce Dembecki and they were met on scene by Fire Associates members Jerry Haag, Ron Green and Larry Carr.

At the peak of activity, San Jose and Santa Clara Fire Departments had master streams flowing from SIX ladder trucks, along with deck guns, remote monitors and hand lines. Water pressure was a problem -- given the thousands and thousands of gallons-per-minute were flowing into the fire building. Ultimately, the main building of San Jose Unified School District's largest elementary school was destroyed, loosing 16 classrooms along with the library and media centers.

Fire Support Unit 2 was released around 10:30 A.M., while fire operations continued for several days after the event. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
-- Reported by Bruce Dembecki

July 3, 2010 -- 5-Alarm San Jose Response

At 1:52 P.M. on Saturday, July 3, the San Jose Fire Department responded to reports of a commercial building fire. Crews from Station 5 reported "Heavy Smoke Showing" while enroute and arrived to find the building with heavy smoke and flame. They struck a second alarm immediately.

SJFD paged Fire Associates for a 3rd alarm fire at 2:24 P.M. and, by 3:44 P.M., the incident had escalated to a fifth alarm.
Don Gilbert took Fire Support Unit 2 and was met on scene by Jerry Haag and Rick James. San Jose was assisted by mutual aid engines and ladders from Santa Clara, Milpitas and Sunnyvale.
-- Reported by Bruce Dembecki
-- Photo by Jerry Haag

Friday, July 2, 2010

July 2, 2010 -- 3rd-alarm Response for San Jose Fire

At about 1:30 P.M., on Friday, July 2, San Jose Fire received reports of a balcony on fire that was spreading to the roof of an apartment complex at 2275 S. Bascom Ave. First-due S.C. County Engine 11 reported heavy smoke visible once they pulled out of the Campbell Fire Station driveway and upon arrival request a second alarm. Within 15 minutes, San Jose Battalion 10 struck a third alarm. The fire damaged several units in the involved building, but it was quickly contained to the one building - a concern since there are a lot of tightly packed wooden buildings in the complex.

The fire started on the ground floor balcony where children playing with a sparkler accidentally ignited a sofa.

Fire Support Unit 2 arrived on scene around 2:00 P.M. and worked with SJ Med 30 to establish a rehab area around the complex's swimming pool. Bruce Dembecki brought the Support Unit to the fireground and was met on scene by George Hoyt, Don Gilbert, Fred Oehm and (can you believe ?) Cliff Smith made his third fire for the year -- a new record for Cliff in recent times. After serving cold drinks and Clif Bars, FSU2 was released at 4:00 P.M.

-- Report filed by Bruce Dembecki

June 30, 2010 -- SJFD Rescue Effort in Alum Rock Park

On Wednesday, June 30, SJFD called Fire Associates for a rescue in Alum Rock Park in the East San Jose foothills. Responding in FSU #2 was John Whiteside who was met by Don Gilbert, Ron Green, and George Hoyt. The event began at 1130, we were paged at 1341. Whiteside responded with Unit 2 at 1420 from Sta 6 and was released at about 1700. John picked up 35 meals from Togos. If an alarm level ws assigned to this incident, a 2nd is appropriate considering the number of engines, truck, USAR and personnel there. CalFire copter 901 did a short haul to pick up the uninjured hiker that slid far down a hillside. Access was difficult.

After telephoning SJ Fire Dispatch for the meal information, Whiteside met Don Gilbert at Togos to pick up food, then went to the park where Ron Green was waiting and George Hoyt arrived later. Park access was via Penitencia Creek Road. The command post was in a large parking lot in front of the Youth Science Institute.

After several hours and attempts to reach the hiker, CalFire was contacted for Copter 901 to do a short haul extraction. Loose shale rocks made the rescue attempt more dangerous to both the rescuers and victim. SJ Search & Rescue rigs and personnel also were on scene, along with many SJ Park Rangers.

After the rescue, as C901 was being refueled, we were asked to pack up 10 sets of meals for the copter crew as fires were starting in the Bay area and they probably would be dispatched. Sure enough, a South San Jose Tier 1 fire popped up off Silver Creek Valley Road near the Country Club and it had the copter, SJ and CalFire ground units occupied.

-- Reported by John Whiteside