Friday, December 30, 2011

"The Embers" Typo Corrected Here

There was an error in our January 2012 edition of The Embers newsletter. A typo appeared in the RSVP contact e-mail address for the Santa Clara County Fire Dept. firefighters retirement dinner. To make certain that you get all the correct information, the article has been reprinted here, in its entirety:
IAFF Local 1165, Santa Clara County Firefighters, is holding a retirement dinner on 1/28/12 at the Hyatt Place Hotel (adjacent to San Jose Convention Center) for 37 firefighters who have retired over recent months. For information and reservations, go to We've known many of these retirees since they began their careers.

Tony Balsa; Tim Baughman; John Becker; Graesson Berbano; Steve Black; Todd Bruce; Tom Buchan; Manuel Burns; Melanie Chase; Kevin Dennis; Patty Doler; Steve Franklin; Vincent Fung; Jim Galbo; Marsha Hovey; Craig Jessup; Randy Jones; Karen Kuns; Todd Lamert; Clark Mauel; Teresa Meisenbach; Bill Morrison; Mark Nadvornik; Don Olson; Hal Rooney; Kelly Seitz; Steve Stockman; Rick Stoker; Jim Swanson; Bill Sylvester; Nick Valdez; Monique Vandenberg; Wes Vanosdol; Joe Virarnontez; Ken Waldvogel; Ian Wallace and Charles Witmer.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Day 3-Alarm Fire Causes Fire Associates Response

On Christmas afternoon, at approximately 6:00PM, San Jose Fire dispatched on a structure fire located a few blocks away from Station 35. The incident address was 244 Omira Drive, near Lean Avenue. It was a 2-story house, single-family, with several wheelchair-bound occupants. The first on-scene unit, Truck 35, concentrated on rescue of the occupants. Heavy fire was soon reported in the garage and a 2nd alarm was called. Soon a precautionary 3rd alarm was called, which triggered a response from Fire Associates for a Fire Support Unit (FSU). John Whiteside was monitoring the call from the beginning, notified the answering/paging service and started responding upon the 3rd alarm request.

Just as John was leaving his driveway enroute to pick up FSU #3 at Station 35, he monitored a fire dispatch to a chimney fire on Loma Prieta Drive, a few blocks from his house and an empty Station 12, which was at the Omira fire. Since John would have to go past this fire scene, he rerouted to it, gave a status report via radio to San Jose Fire, then continued on to Station 35 to activate FSU-3.

Upon Johns arrival at the Omira fire in FSU-3, the Incident Commander requested he set up for coffee and drinks. Soon John was joined by Don Gilbert, and then Mike Chappell. Clif Bars were available for anyone who wanted them -- or maybe had not yet had Christmas dinner.  FSU-3 was released at  9:30PM and returned to nearby Station 35.

There were manyThank yous from area residents to both the firemen and policemen at the scene for working Christmas Day, as well as to Fire Associates from the fire personnel. It seems that either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day is a regular fire callout for Fire Associates, based on the past few years history. 

-- Report Submitted by John Whiteside

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Three Fires In A Span of 5 Hours Keeps Fire Associates Members Busy

The first day of December became a busy day for Santa Clara county fire departments and, hence, Fire Associates' members. Three different fires in the span of 5 hours stretched from Campbell to South San Jose. Descriptions of the 3 events follows:

3:21 P.M. Thursday, December 1 
Photo by Brian A. Floyd, Campbell Patch
Santa Clara County Fire Calls for Aid at 2-Alarm Fire In Campbell

On Wednesday evening, the weather forecasters were all predicting strong winds for the entire state of California. So, it was not surprising when a structure fire in Campbell quickly went to a second alarm. John Whitaker was returning home from an errand when the call for assistance came from the Santa Clara County Fire Department. He looked across the Valley and saw a plume of smoke rising from the Valley's West Side.

John quickly went home, donned his FASCV gear, and responded in Fire Support Unit 2 to the location at 420 Nello Drive - parallelling San Tomas Expressway. He was met on scene by FASCV member George Hoyt who helped with rehab location. Also helping with rehab set up was past FASCV guest Walt Huber.

Considering the strong winds, and the building's shake-roof construction, County Fire crews made a good knockdown of the blaze. The fire apparently began in a garage area at the rear of the structure. Flames spread up the exterior of the building and entered he attic space through the roof vents. Once inside the attic, the fire ran the length of the building.
About an hour after FSU-2 arrived on scene, a second, unrelated, multi-alarm fire broke out less than 2 miles away. Crews who were on the periphery of the fireground were quickly dispatched to the new incident, leaving extremely "jealous" first-in firefighters who were still occupied with the Nello Drive overhaul.

4:49 P.M. Thursday, December 1 
Another 2-Alarm Incident Causes Santa Clara County Fire to Respond to Its Second Fire In Campbell
Photo by Brian A. Floyd, Campbell Patch
The second fire of the day was not far from the first. Located at 600 Marathon Drive, just 2 intersections up the San Tomas Expressway, this fire was burning on an exterior balcony. Because of the high winds, it didn't take long for the fire to enter the attic and through the 12-unit building.
Because Fire Support Unit 2 was tied up providing service at the first fire, Bob Gundrum responded to this incident in FSU-1. He was joined on scene by Jerry Haag, Ron Green, Bruce Dembecki, Larry Carr, George Hoyt and Walter Huber (guest). John Whitaker was eventually released from the Nello Drive fire and responded in with FSU-2. Jerry's report follows:

Date and Time: 01 December 2011, 1630 hours
Agency: Santa Clara County Fire
Incident Address: 600 Marathon Drive, Campbell
Type: 2nd alarm.

Details: Large, two-story, non-sprinklered apartment building. Fire on a second floor balcony, threat to spread to attic. Truss roof warning issued.

CNT: E-6, 8, 9, 15, 301; R-17 and 3; T-1, 5; HM-2; BS-2; ICs Batt-2 (Cocraft) and Batt-12 (Salazar); Batt-3; Batt-14
FASCV Responding Units: FSU-1, supplemented by FSU-2 which was returning from a nearby 2nd alarm fire. Eventually, FSU-2 left the scene to go back into service just in time to attend a Tier vegetation fire in South San Jose. FSU-1 was released at 1930 hours.

7:21 P.M. Thursday, December 1
Fire Associates Responds to a Rare Nighttime Tier Vegetation Fire in South San Jose
Photo by Bruce Dembecki

With two structure fires under his belt, John Whitaker was just about to put FSU-2 away for the night at SJFD Station 6 when the rig radio began to crackle with word of a vegetation fire in South San Jose. So, sitting on the apron of Station 6, and knowing that it was a cold, windy night, John called Fire Dispatch to ask if the IC would like to have an already staffed Support Unit respond. The reply from Battalion 13 was, "Yes!" That's all John needed to hear, and he was off!

Located at 5215 Hellyer Ave., the fire was reported to be about an acre in size and located behind a row of office and industrial buildings. Even with the quicker than usual response, by the time John arrived, the fire had already been knocked down and crews were mopping up. The Engine 18 Captain explained that they had been to the site about an hour earlier and could not find a fire. This time, the crews had a better idea where to look and arrived at the exact site. With a hydrant handy, the engines were able to quell the fire with deck guns and minimal hand lines -- therefore, there was not much mop up required.

By this time, John had been joined by George Hoyt and Bruce Dembecki, who helped provide some fluids and Clif Bars to crews who had not yet had dinner. MMMMM... Gatorade and Clif Bars for dinner - yum!