Thursday, September 30, 2010

September 30 -- 2-Alarm House Fire in Campbell

At 2:50 P.M., on Thursday, Sept. 30, Santa Clara County Fire responded Engine 11 to reports of "Smoke in the area" near Bascom and Campbell Avenues. This led to reports of a house on fire a few minutes later at 74 Decorah Lane. Engine 11 arrived on the scene of a two-story residence with smoke and flames shooting through the roof. By 3:15, County B/C 2, Chief Miller, and B/C 3, Chief Parker, had called for a 2nd alarm response, resulting in a page out for Fire Associates a few minutes later.

Bruce Dembecki responded with Fire Support Unit 2 and was met on scene by FASCV member Cliff Smith who had arrived at the same time as Engine 11. During the first couple of hours, FASCV served large quantities of water and Gatorade and we went through 12 bags of ice on a warm, summer-like afternoon. More ice was delivered early in the evening as the event went on.

The fire caused a partial roof collapse inside the structure, and it took about an hour before the scene was declared under control. The scene was further complicated by the discovery of some drums and barrels containing unknown substances on the side of the house, and piles of debris around the apparent source of the fire, which needed to be pulled apart. After two hours, the second alarm units were released, while new units were called in to handle the hazmat issue.

Ultimately, the scene was left in the hands of the fire and police investigators, and the decision was made to board up the house and complete the investigation the next day, in good light. Fire Support Unit 2 was released at 19:44 and returned to quarters.
-- Submitted by Bruce Dembecki

September 29, 2010 - Tier 2 Response for San Jose Grass Fire

On Wednesday afternoon, Fire Associates responded to a Tier 2 grass fire burning along Malech Rd. at the south end of the Santa Clara Valley.  John Whiteside responded in Support Unit 2 and was joined on scene by Mike Chappell and George Hoyt on another very-hot, early-autumn day. John has submitted the following report:

This fire resulted in a SJS Tier 2 dispatch plus a full Cal Fire response with a tanker drop or two. Incident was located near Malech Rd., north of Bailey Ave., south of Metcalf Rd. and east of Hwy 101.  Total of 17 acres.

Since it was only a Tier 2 fire, I called SJS Dispatch based on the high temperature and they said, "GO!" When I called our answering service, they said San Jose had just called them for us to respond. As I was arriving at Station 6, I got a page from Cal Fire and they also wanted us to respond. Turned out to be a Cal Fire responsibility. Almost all the Cal Fire units stopped by our Rehab for drinks and Clif Bars. One camp-crew inmate was transported due to heat exhaustion; he had not eaten all day! We received many thanks for coming.
-- Photo from SJ Mercury News by R Wesley Van Osdol

September 26, 2010 -- Special Request for San Jose Hazmat Incident

On a very hot Sunday afternoon, September 26, Fire Associates was called by the San Jose Fire Department to a Hazmat incident on the City's north side. Located at 2118 Zanker Road, employees of a bathtub refinishing business reported an unfamiliar odor coming from their building's warehouse. Responding to the special call for assistance in Fire Support Unit 1 were Bob Gundrum and Jerry Haag. Jerry has submitteded the following report:

Date: 27 September 2010
Time: 1602 (Sonitrol page), 1645 Arrival, 1830 Release
Type: HazMat Incident
Size: Special Call
Jurisdiction: San Jose
Location: 2118 Zanker Road

Details:  Large industrial building. Reported as strong smell of gas. Turned out to be sewer gas. Fire Associates requested because of the excessively hot afternoon with temperatures above the 90-degree mark.

Responding Members:  Gundrum (driver), Haag, Green, Chappell, Whitaker and Hoyt
Fire Support Unit Responding:  FSU-1

Submitted by: J. Haag 

September 25 -- 3rd-Alarm House Fire In San Jose

Early Saturday morning, Sept. 25, the San Jose Fire Dept. called for assistance from Fire Associates. The three-alarm fire was burning at 1475 Newport Ave. in the City's Willow Glen neighborhood. Bruce Dembecki and Don Gilbert responded to Station 6 and had Fire Support Unit 2 out the door by 12:55 A.M.  for the "long" journey to the fire ground. After an eventful trip (where somehow the team didn't get lost on the way), Support Unit 2 went on scene at 12:56 A.M. They were joined on scene by FASCV members John Whitaker, Herman De Kruyff, Dan Wong and Mike Chappell. Bruce has submitted the following report:

When on scene, we were ultimately directed to establish Rehab four houses north of the fire house, and together with AMR and the crew of Engine 7, full rehab with medical monitoring was established under the command of Med 30. In addition to our normal Rehab duties, FASCV members were also involved in moving 300 feet of 5" hose lay and setting up the SJFD porta potty trailer when it arrived on the back of Battalion 29, or as one fire department staffer jokingly called the B/C buggy, "Potty 29".

The fire struck at the rear of a large two story Victorian style house. First unit "on scene" was SJPD's Air 2, reporting the blaze from above and directing Engine 6 into the fire scene. Upon arrival, Engine 6 called for a second alarm, declaring that the rear of the building was fully engulfed, with fire in the basement, first and second floors, and shooting through the roof (which is surely what initially got Air 2's attention). With elapsed time at less than 30 minutes, Incident Commander, B/C 1 Garry Galasso, called for a third alarm. The fire appeared to have originated at a shed at the rear of the property, with the cause still under investigation.

After establishing several Aerial master streams to reduce the heat and flames, what was left was the remains of a 4,000-square-foot house with small spot fires spread throughout. A considerable effort was put on exposure protection and ember patrols, to ensure that no other nearby properties were impacted. Power wires were down and PG&E ultimately disconnected power to the entire area to facilitate fire department ladder operations. The fire was a three-alarm response from San Jose Fire, with additional Mutual Aid resources from County being called up on to provide station coverage.

Ultimately, it was decided that an ongoing fire fighting effort would be needed to monitor the three levels of the building and pick off fires as they sprung up. The fire was contained rather than defeated, with the bulk of the crews being released around 3:30am and after packing up FSU 2 arrived back in quarters at 04:00. Fire watch consisting of an engine and a truck remained on scene throughout the day to deal with the fire inside the structure, and as of the time of writing this report replacement fire watch crews were being dispatched to continue these efforts through at least 16:30.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Former Support Unit Donated to San Jose Fire Museum

FASCV Fleet Manager Don Gilbert (left) hands over
the keys to Fire Support Unit to San Jose Fire Museum
Fleet Manager
, Randy Perez

On Wednesday, September 22, Fire Associates of Santa Clara Valley presented our former Fire Support Unit 3 to the San Jose Fire Museum. The vehicle, most recently used as a reserve Rehab support unit, is a 1981 Dodge Power Ram that was originally a San Jose Fire Department brush patrol. It was donated to Fire Associates by the San Jose Fire Department and has been used as a Fire Support Unit since 2003.

The museum has had their eye on this vehicle for some time. Now, it will become the first and only Brush Patrol in the San Jose Fire Museum's collection. There are a couple of pieces that need to be reinstalled on the rig to make it original, including the hose reel and the red lightbar lenses. Fortunately, Fire Associates held on to the equipment when we modified it to function as a support unit. Fire Associates was able to provide all that equipment back to the Fire Museum.

Work began on Monday to transition equipment and supplies between the former FSU-3 and the Ford F-350 that will now become the current Fire Support Unit 3. Helping facilitate the changeover was FASCV Fleet Manager, Don Gilbert, as well as FASCV members John Whitaker, Bruce Dembecki and Mike Chappel. Lending a hand with the "heavy lifting", were San Jose Fire Museum Fleet Manager, Randy Perez, and SJFM member, Phil Reggiardo. For Rehab power supply purposes, a Honda 5000W generator had been installed in place of the brush patrol's hose reel. During the changeover operation, the generator had to be lifted out of the hose bay and be replaced with the original hose reel.

For the time being, the current FSU-3 will be housed in a warehouse on Quinn Ave. in San Jose. Because it is a diesel rig, it cannot be stored in it's former "home", San Jose Fire Station 26. The station has three full apparatus bays so no spare exhaust extraction equipment is available. SJFD health regulations prevent a diesel-powered rig from being stored in an apparatus bay attached to living quarters without exhaust extraction equipment.
  • Photos of the changeover process can be viewed at this link:  FSU-3 Changeover

Saturday, September 18, 2010

September 17, 2010 -- 2-Alarm Response for Fire In Palo Alto

On Friday morning, Sept. 17, at 7:42 A.M., Fire Associates responded to a 2-alarm fire in Palo Alto. A large, 2-story home was burning at 1000 University Ave. Jerry Haag responded in Support Unit 1 and has submitted this report:

Date: 17 September 2010
Time: 0715 dispatch of Full Structural Response on report of smoke in a dwelling.
         0730 Second alarm
         0742 Sonitrol page
         (req. by Haag enroute to SNC Sta. 9)
         0825 Arrival
         1200 Release
Type: Structure Fire
Size: Second alarm
Jurisdiction: Palo Alto
Location: 1000 University Ave.

Details: Fire in large, two-story, single-family, frame dwelling. Heritage Building constructed in 1901. Heavy fire on second floor and attic when first engine arrived. Three elderly adults displaced.

Units Present:
PAF:  IC-Batt. 6 (Bonfiglio); E-1, 3, 4, 6; T-6; R-2; Medic-1
MTV:  T-1
MNL:  T-1
CNT:  Batt. 14

Responding Members: Haag (driver), Dan Wong, Ron Green and Herman De Kruyff.
Fire Support Unit Responding: FSU-1
Remarks: A trifecta of quints , each operating an elevated master stream at a corner of the building.

Accompanying Photos by:  Dan Wong

Monday, September 13, 2010

September 7, 2010 -- 3rd Alarm Response in Santa Clara

At 6:30 PM on Tuesday, Sept. 8, Fire Associates responded to a 3rd-alarm fire in the City of Santa Clara. Responding in Support Unit 1 was Bob Gundrum. Bob has issued the following report:

Date:  07 September 2010
Time: 1832 Hrs - dispatched by Sonitrol
Type: Structure Fire - 2 story, 8 unit occupancy
Alarm Level:  3rd alarm (for city coverage)
Jurisdiction:  City of Santa Clara
Location:  856 Monroe

Details: Fire in the 2nd story, of multiple occupancy (8 unit <4 per floor>).  Structure was perpendicular to the street with fire in 3rd unit from street.  Upon arrival two columns of heavy black smoke were seen rising from both "B" & "D" sides of structure.  Smoke was along complete balcony approximately 5' above floor.  Upon arrival at involved unit, about 1/3 of front door had been burned through.  All other units on 2nd floor appeared to be vacant.  Fire did enter attic, where it was held in check by fire stops.

Responding Members: Gundrum (Driver), Wagner, Haag and Whitaker.

Fire Support Unit Responding: FSU #1

Remarks:  FSU #1 was approximately 4 blocks from scene when SNC Fire Dispatch advised we had been cancelled by IC.  We continued to scene and exhausted one ice chest of water & Gatorade plus 1/2 box (12 Cliff Bars).  So much for being cancelled!!!!! At one point, until 3rd alarm was struck, E-9 was the only SNC unit in the city not on assignment.

Submitted by:  B. Gundrum

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

September 8, 2010 -- 2-Alarm Response for Gilroy Fire

On Wedensday, Sept. 8, Fire Support Unit 2 responded to a 2-alarm fire at Gilroy Foods at 1350 Pacheco Pass Highway in Gilroy. Bruce Dembecki took FSU 2 and picked up John Whiteside en route, Upon arrival, the Support Unit was met by FASCV members Mike Chappell, Herman De Kruyff, Ron Green and Dan Wong. FASCV was directed to setup rehab by the entrance to the fire building inside the complex. Cold drinks and coffee both were popular on a surprisingly overcast day for September, and we went through 4 dozen donuts while on scene, with Gilroy taking a dozen back to their HQ and the remaining dozen to Morgan Hill for the Cal Fire Operations Center on our way back to the City.

The fire had originated in one of the ovens used to dry garlic and onion, and caused some disruption to one part of the factory. Initially, there was a lot of heat and smoke in the building, but by the time Fire Associates was on scene, the bulk of the activity was an extensive overhaul operation. Other parts of the factory continued to operate. There was a secondary problem with water from firefighting efforts on the factory floor, and when firefighters left, the sprinkler system in that building had been deactivated.

During the incident, one firefighter was taken to hospital, with vitals spiking during a Rehab check.

Gilroy Fire responded all three of their engines, with additional support from South Santa Clara County Fire District, Cal Fire and Santa Clara County Fire all on scene, and additional County and Cal Fire resources providing Station Coverage (and ultimately a multi-engine response to a grass fire at another location in Gilroy).

Sunday, September 5, 2010

September 4, 2010 -- Voluntary FASCV Response in Sunnyvale

At 1:45 P.M. on Saturday, Sept. 4, the Sunnyvale Public Safety Dept. dispatched a full response for a structure fire. Bob Gundrum and Jerry Haag voluntarily responded in their private vehicles to assist with Rehab services. They were joined by FASCV members Dan Wong, Ron Green and guest David Thompson. Jerry has submitted the following report:

Date: 04 September 2010
Time: 1345 dispatch of Full Structural Response.
Type: Structure Fire
Size: First alarm
Jurisdiction: Sunnyvale
Location: 960 Planetree Place

Details: Fire in one-story, single-family, dwelling. Heavily involved when Engine 4 arrived from just around the corner. Exposure on the B side. Held to building of origin. Structure saved. Two adults and two children  displaced.

Responding Members: Voluntary response by Gundrum and Haag, joined later by Wong and Green. David (guest) also in attendance.

Fire Support Unit Responding: None. Hydration services by Gundrum from POV, Haag provided ice.

Remarks: None

-- Accompanying Photo by Dan Wong

Saturday, September 4, 2010

September 2, 2010 -- Tier 2 Grass Fire in San Jose

At approximately 3:00 P.M. on Thursday, Sept. 2, Fire Associates responded to a Tier 2 grass fire in San Jose's east foothills. Burning near the intersection of Clayton Rd. and Fall Ave., the fire quickly raced up a hillside and was threatening homes in it's path. John Whiteside responded in Support Unit 2 and was met on scene by FASCV members George Hoyt and John Whitaker.

San Jose Fire sent a full Tier 2 response for structure protection and asked for Cal Fire assistance. Since temperatures were well above 90 degrees, Cal Fire was at a high response level and sent multiple type-3 engines as well 2 air tankers and Copter 106. The heavy air support was credited as keeping the burned are at only 7.5 acres on a day when the potential for much more was very high.

Support Unit 2 set up at the command post near Clayton Rd. and Marten Ave. From here, FASCV could function as a central area for rehab and rehydration, while Med 30 delivered bottled water and Gatorade on the perimeter of the fire. All San Jose units were instructed to pass through Rehab to rehydrate before going back into service. This rehab plan meant that at the height of the fire, FASCV did not have much "business". But, as things wound down, the Rehab area got very busy.

Complicating maters, was that this was also the day of FASCV's September Monthly Meeting in Mountain View. John Whitaker left the scene early so that he could get to the meeting on time. Cal Fire had asked FASCV to stay until its conclusion to service their handcrews. So, John Whiteside remained on scene to provide service, but he was able to make the meeting by traveling to Mountain View in the support unit. Since Support Unit 1 was already going to be "on display" for the Mountain View firefighters, that meant that they got a double-dose of Fire Associates' vehicles.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

September 1, 2010 -- 2nd-Alarm Response for San Jose Fire Department

The first day of September began for Fire Associates the way the month of August ended. FIRE! Since Aug. 22, FASCV has responded to 7 calls for assistance. This day was no different as we responded to fire number 8 in the two-week period.

Shortly after 1:00 P.M. on Sept. 1st, John Whiteside responded in Support Unit 2 to a fire near downtown San Jose. John was joined by FASCV member Bruce Dembecki and Bob Gundrum. Located at 160 N. 4th Street (near E. St. James St.), a fire had apparently started in a dumpster and spread up the outside of the single-story, Victorian home and into the attic space. Because of the fire's close proximity to a high-rise building, a multiple-alarm dispatch was called.

FSU 2 provided cold lemonade, Gatorade and Clif Bars to fire crews who had been fighting the fire in very hot summer temperatures.
-- Accompanying Photos by Bruce Dembecki