Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Two San Jose Homes Burn In 4-Alarm Fire

On May 30 at 1449 hours, Fire Associates received a page to a three-alarm fire at 1948 Conifer Lane, north of Cropley Avenue in northeast San Jose. A two-story house was burning; quick second and third alarms were initiated as exposures on both sides were threatened, and one adjacent house ignited. During this time, a fourth alarm was requested, which brought a mutual aid alarm assignment from the City of Santa Clara.
John Whiteside responded to the page with Fire Support Unit (FSU) #3. Don Gilbert, who was near FSU #2’s quarters, heard the dispatches and upon hearing the fourth alarm, responded with FSU #2. John advised Jerry Haag, FA’s Vice President via amateur radio, that both south area’s FSUs were going. Jerry decided to cover FSU #1 in case it would be needed elsewhere in the county.
Don, being closer, arrived on scene with FSU #2 shortly before #3, and was met by George Hoyt. FSU #2’s equipment was used to support fire fighter rehab efforts. Dan Wong and guest Walter Huber arrived and assisted Don and John. Iced Gatorade, water and lemonade was served along with CLIF bars. John picked up 40 meals (burritos from Baja Fresh) to feed the remaining on-scene fire personnel. Fire Associates were released at 1935 hours. One SJFD fire fighter suffered minor burns, was transported to a local hospital for treatment and released.

-- Report submitted by John Whiteside

Thursday, May 24, 2012

3-Alarm Office Fire in San Jose

Photo By Bruce Dembecki
Date: May 24, 2012
Type: Structure Fire
Size: 3 Alarm
Jurisdiction: San Jose Fire Department
Location: 1060 Saratoga Ave., San Jose
Responding Members: Bruce Dembecki (Driver), Jerry Haag, Dan Wong, Mike Chappell, Don Gilbert and FASCV Guest Walter Huber
Response Units: FSU2
Requested at 11:48 P.M., on scene at 12:05 A.M., released at 2:00 A.M. and back in quarters by 2:30 A.M.
San Jose firefighters found themselves in a challenging firefight on Thursday May 24th. After responding to reports of a fire alarm at the Saratoga Medical Clinic at 1060 Saratoga Ave., firefighters were able to discover one of the offices charged with smoke. At that time firefighters called for a full first alarm response as first-due Engine 14 went to work trying to find out what was burning.
As they made entry to different offices in the two story building, firefighters found increasing levels of smoke, but no fire. With heat signatures in the wall and the attic space, the incident was upgraded to a second alarm. Ventilating the roof was complicated by the building's metal clad roof construction method, which made the roof untenable for firefighters and their gear. Building sprinklers were activated on several occasions as firefighters used them to try and douse the hard to find flames.
Photo By Bruce Dembecki
As complications continued accessing the fire, the incident was upgraded to a third alarm over an hour into the incident, and then 20 minutes later, without calling a fourth alarm, several additional units including a mutual aid engine and truck from Santa Clara were added to the incident - now almost 90 minutes since first reports were received.
The third alarm request also resulted in a call being made for Fire Associates support at 11:48 P.M. and Fire Support Unit 2, driven by FASCV member Bruce Dembecki, was on scene at 12:05 A.M. Bruce was joined on scene by FASCV members Jerry Haag, Don Gilbert, Dan Wong and Mike Chappell, along with Fire Associates guest Walter Huber. Both coffee and cold drinks were popular as the night wore on. Finally, three and a half hours after the initial reports were received enough walls and ceilings had been pulled to access the fire and the incident was considered under control. Units were released at 2:00am, with a fresh engine crew being summoned to perform fire watch overnight.
-- Report submitted by Bruce Dembecki

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Two-Alarm Mobile Home Blaze In Sunnyvale

Agency: Sunnyvale Fire
Incident Address: 1220 Tasman, Sunnyvale
Date & Time: 05-22-2012, 0515 hours
Type: Two alarms

Agency Responders:
SNY: E-1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 60; T-1, 2; R-2;  IC was Batt-3 (Chetcuti).

Details: Double-wide occupied mobile home. Heavily involved on first arrival. Close exposures on B and D sides. Well placed lines saved exposures from significant damage. Main unit destroyed.

FASCV Unit: FSU-1. Arrived: 0605, released: 0830 hours
FASCV Responders: Haag (driver), Hoyt.

-- Report Submitted By Jerry Haag

Friday, May 18, 2012

Bomb Scare Causes Neighborhood Evacuation

A very busy month of May for Fire Associates got busier on Friday, May 19, when the San Jose Fire Department called for our assistance in Willow Glen.

And, this was not your usual fire response.

At approximately 9:30 A.M., the San Jose Police Department received a bomb threat call at a business in downtown Willow Glen. According to reports, police officers found threatening notes attached to the business' doors and a suspicious, liquid-filled bottle by the rear door. To make matters more interesting, an unknown white powder trail lead up to the bottle in question. Police immediately backed off, called for the area to be evacuated, and requested assistance from fire department Hazmat Units. The business was reported by police to be "Nail Spa by Tammy" at 1302 Lincoln Ave.

The fire response was impressive. The San Jose Fire Department responded their Command Van, the HIT Task Force, USARs 34A and B, as well as Santa Clara County's Hazmat unit and Breathing Support rig.

As the event lasted through the morning, and with the lunch hour rapidly approaching, a request was made for Fire Associates presence to serve the meal. Responding to the 11:08 A.M. page was FASCV life-member Don Gilbert in Fire Support Unit 2. With FSU-2's home at Station 6 just down the street, this was one of the few times when Don could have said "Support Unit 2 en route...and on scene!" in the same radio message. He was soon joined by FASCV members John Whitaker, Bob Gundrum, Jerry Haag, Ron Green, Mike Chappell and George Hoyt.

A rehab area was set up near the command post in the parking lot of the Chase Bank located on the corner of Lincoln and Minnesota Avenues. This location was south of the 300-foot evacuation zone that had been set up by the SJPD. The meal service area was set up under FASCV's new 12x12 "Easi-up" awning which provided shade for the emergency personnel on the 81-degree day. John Whitaker and Jerry Haag were dispatched to a nearby taqueria and returned with 35 burritos for hungry fire crews who had not eaten since being dispatched. Cold beverages and Clif Bars were also in hot demand.

After several hours of waiting for police robots to collect samples of the material, and the HIT team to determine its composition, the substances were determined to be water and corn starch.

So, with the threat minimized, emergency crews were routed through the meal area, and then released to return to quarters. Fire Associates stayed until the last crews were fed, and then were released at approximately 3:00 P.M.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

FASCV Responds to South County House Fire


Shortly after midnight on Tuesday, May 15, Fire Associates members received a request for help in San Martin. Burning in a rural area, east of the U.S. 101 freeway, the fire was in a two-story house located at 14005 Center Ave. John Whiteside responded in Fire Support Unit 3 from San Jose Station 35. He was met on scene by Mike Chappell and John Whitaker.

First-arriving firefighters found the second floor fully involved with the residents trying to extinguish the flames. The home was a wood-frame structure with wood siding and a first-floor garage and vehicles underneath the second floor. After some difficulty convincing the residents to leave the fire fighting to the professionals, and vacate the building, fire crews set to work attacking the blaze.

The firefighters on scene were a "Who's Who" of south county departments. Although officially a South County Fire District event, the list included: South County E1, E2, E3, WT1 and WT2; CalFire B1611, B1617, P1621 and E1681; Gilroy E61 and B5; Santa Clara County E12 and E13; and San Jose Fire E27, E18, WT18 and WT13. With the fire being in a rural area, there were no hydrants available. The early firefighting efforts were handled with onboard water tanks while a portable, canvas tank was set up and filled via a water shuttle system.

Along with County EMS personnel, Fire Associate members set up a formal rehab area on the shoulder of Center Ave., directly across from the fire. Although not exceptionally cold, many pots of hot coffee and two boxes of donuts were well-appreciated by the variety of personnel on scene.

Fire Support Unit 3 was released from the incident at 4:05 A.M.

Friday, May 11, 2012

FASCV Members "Volunteer" Help at San Jose Blaze

Photo By Bruce Dembecki
At 12:42 P.M., on May 11, San Jose Fire Department crews responded to reports of fire and heavy smoke coming from the roof of an apartment building at 2148 The Alameda. Units responding to the first alarm reported heavy smoke was visible from a considerable distance away and requested a second alarm -- before the first-in unit had even arrived. Firefighters, under the direction of Battalion 1 B/C Ivan Lee, were able to contain the blaze to the building of origin and limited damage to the higher up levels of the building.

Although Fire Associates members always volunteer their services, FASCV Director Ed Del Prete and member Rick James decided to really volunteer their services at this event. Although not dispatched to this fire, they decided to "drop in" and see if they could be of assistance. Meanwhile, Fire Associates member Bruce Dembecki did the same thing as he headed that way to see if there was anything Fire Associates could do to help. 
While no Fire Support Unit was responded, Fire Associates members on scene assisted Med 30 in establishing a Rehab section in the summer-like heat of the early afternoon. Med 30's supply of water and Gatorade were enough to keep the fire crews out of trouble and it was decided not to respond a Fire Support Unit to the scene. The incident was declared as "controlled" at around 2:00 P.M.
Photo By Bruce Dembecki

Several residents were displaced in the 2-alarm blaze, and a number of dogs went missing, having scattered in different directions when the fire rigs approached in a very loud manner.
-- Report Submitted By Bruce Dembecki

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

5-Alarm Fire Largest of the Year in Santa Clara

Photo By Bruce Dembecki
Date and Time: 05-09-2012, 2200 hours
Agency: Santa Clara City Fire
Incident Address: 1924 Hillebrant, Santa Clara
Type: Five alarms

Agency Responders:
SNC: E-1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10; T-2, 8; R-2;  IC was Batt-1 (Weirshauser)
SJS: E-10, 14; T-14; Batt. 10, plus station fills
CNT: E-1, 10; T-1

In addition to everything else, Santa Clara County Engines 11 and 2 were also providing station coverage. County B3 was the B/C with the County engines making up the fifth alarm.

Photo By Bruce Dembecki
Santa Clara Fire Department responded to reports of a fire on a building site near Scott and El Camino Real in downtown Santa Clara in the late evening of May 9th. A large complex of town houses, some occupied, some under construction located at 1924 Hillebrant Place was ablaze. First in fire fighters reported heavy flames on two of the buildings that were under construction, and occupied town houses adjacent to the fire buildings were under threat from the huge blaze.

With flames shooting out of the construction site over 100' into the air, the IC quickly requested a second alarm response, and then a third, fourth and ultimately a fifth alarm response to the incident. It is reported that the flames could be seen from as far away as Saratoga.

Bob Gundrum responded to the scene with Fire Support Unit 1 and was joined on scene by Fire Associates Members Jerry Haag, Rob Green, Dan Wong and Bruce Dembecki, along with Fire Associates guest Walter Huber. Rehab was quickly established and, despite the late time of night, cold drinks were the order of the evening, with a large amount of Gatorade and water being consumed by large numbers of firefighters spread around the fire ground. While Fire Support Unit 1 served as the location of the formal rehab process, deliveries were made by several Fire Associates team members throughout the large fire ground.

Several occupied buildings were damaged by radiant heat or in one case a fire spread into the attic, as fire brands were being thrown hundreds of yards away from the fire itself. A small number of residents were displaced from the one completed building that suffered some damage, while the two buildings under construction were completely destroyed in the blaze, along with several cars parked near the fire scene. The Santa Clara Fire Dept. was assisted on scene by units from Santa Clara County Fire and San Jose Fire, while both departments also provided additional resources to provide station coverage for the Santa Clara area.

FASCV Responding Unit: FSU-1. Arrived: 2230, released: 0130 hours on the 10th.
Responders: Bob Gundrum (driver), Dan Wong, Ron Green, Jerry Haag, Bruce Dembecki and Walter Huber (guest).

-- Report submitted by Jerry Haag and Bruce Dembecki

Monday, May 7, 2012

Fire Associates Called By Santa Clara County Fire

Date and Time: 05-07-2012, 0245 hours
Agency: County Fire
Incident Address: 110 Drysdale Dr., Los Gatos
Type: Second alarm
Details: Large, single-family dwelling. Two persons rescued. Very hilly area, could not get FSU near fire due to narrow streets occupied by fire apparatus. Two dozen donuts hand-jacked in by Gilbert.
FASCV Responding Unit: FSU-2. Arrived: 0330, released: 0430 hours.
FASCV Responders: Don Gilbert (driver) and Jerry Haag.

-- Report submitted by Jerry Haag

Sunday, May 6, 2012

San Jose Apartment Fire Goes to 3 Alarms

OK. So now we're back to apartment fires.

On a warm, late spring day, the San Jose Fire Department responded to yet another fire in an apartment complex. This time, a 3-alarm blaze was burning at the New Horizons apartments located near the intersection of Almaden Blvd. and Alma Street. Long-time San Jose residents may recognize that location as the site of the former Big Sky Drive-in.
Located at 251 Shadow Dance Drive, the first-arriving fire crews found flames and smoke rolling out of the windows of the 2nd-floor unit. The active fire made for some interesting radio traffic.
Fire Associates members who were listening to their emergency scanners heard BC Juan Diaz ask the dispatcher how many calls had been received. The reply came back, "At least nine!" That prompted Chief Diaz to respond, "Give me a second alarm and please dispatch the Fire Associates."
So, even before a page was sent out by Sonitrol, some FASCV members were active on the telephone checking to see who was going to respond. Don Gilbert and Bruce Dembecki met at Station 6, and it was not long before Fire Support Unit 2 was in route to the fire. They were met on scene by George Hoyt, John Whitaker, Bob Gundrum and Mike Chappell.
Rehab was set up on a lawn area deep within the complex necessitating that all supplies be hand-carried into the area. The good news was large trees were in the sapace and provided adequate shade on a hot, mid-80s afternoon. Medical rehab was also busy with Rural/Metro crews scurrying to check the vitals on weary firefighters as they came off the front line. Eventually, one firefighter was transported to the hospital with heat exhaustion symptoms.
Needless to say, lots of liquids were dispensed -- both by Fire Associates and Med 30. After arriving on scene a little before 2:00 PM, FASCV was released at 4:00 PM.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

"All Hands On Deck" As House Fire Burns in West San Jose

Finally, after 5 apartment or 4-plex fires in a row, Fire Associates responded to a house fire! Not to make light of the subject, but it did seem like if you lived in an apartment, you were vulnerable. Interesting how events like this seem to come in bunches.
At 8:27 PM on Thursday, May 3, San Jose firefighters were called to a structure fire at 1262 Topaz Ave. on the city's west side. As luck would have it, the Fire Associates members were in the middle of their monthly meeting at the San Jose Fire Department's training center located on Montgomery Ave. Since John Whitaker was sitting closest to the door, he was elected to go grab Fire Support Unit 2 while every one else anxiously awaited the end of the meeting so they could respond, too.
John quickly loaded up the rig with ice, waited for Bruce Dembecki to arrive to ride as co-pilot, and they were off -- only a few minutes after the dispatch. They were joined on scene by Bob Gundrum, Ron Green, George Hoyt, Larry Carr, Don Gilbert, Dan Wong and Walter Huber (guest). It was, basically, "all hands on deck" for FASCV members.

Rehab was set up on a neighbors' lawn directly across the street from the incident. First-arriving companies had their hands full as the fire had already fully engulfed the garage, had spread to a car and fiberglass boat parked in the driveway, and was quickly spreading to at least one adjoining home. Firefighters said the fire was burning with such intensity that they could not give the structure protection assignment their full attention. Second and third alarms were very quickly called as the first-alarm crews were calling in on the radio using terms like "loosing it" and "wires down".

The evening was pleasant weather wise as temperatures were in the low 60s at around 9:00 P.M. But, fire crews were absolutely exhausted as they came into Rehab such was the intensity of the firefighting effort. The support unit was returned to quarters at 5 minutes past midnight.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Still Another Apartment Fire Causes FASCV to Respond


Date and Time: 05-01-2012, 0313 hours
Agency: San Jose
Incident Address: 2291 Warfield Way, San Jose
Type: Third alarm
Details: Two-story duplex. Fire started in carport, spread to second floor and attic. One fatality, three injured and transported, five additional displaced.
FASCV Responding Unit: FSU-2. Arrived: 0355, released: 0630 hours.
FASCV Responders: Don Gilbert (driver), George Hoyt, Jerry Haag an Bruce Dembecki.
-- Report submitted by Jerry Haag