Thursday, August 30, 2012

Cathedral Fire Challeges San Jose Firefighters

Photo By Bruce Dembecki
At 11:40 A.M. on Thursday, August 30, Fire Associates responded to a fire at St. Patrick's Cathedral. The midday blaze challenged San Jose firefighters with their third multiple alarm fire in 36 hours. John Whiteside responded in Fire Support Unit 3 simultaneously with Don Gilbert who was responding in Fire Support Unit 2. With FSU-2 able to respond more quickly, FSU-3 was cancelled en route.
Located at 389 E. Santa Clara St., at its busy intersection with 8th Street, the fire was spotted soon after it started. However, the fire quickly spread up into the open, vaulted rafters of the cathedral's sanctuary. The room reportedly filled with dense, black smoke making the fire difficult to fight.

To complicate matters, as the fire fight was winding down, one of the crew members of Truck 1 suffered cardiac arrest, requiring quick and immediate attention from other firefighters and paramedics on the scene. He was transported by a Rural-Metro EMS Unit to Regional Medical Center. However, those remaining on the scene were visibly shaken by the incident. Many were released from the incident and were replaced on scene by fresh firefighters.
The warm afternoon, with temps in the mid 80s, brought out a large response from the SJFD as well as a larger than usual response from Fire Associates. Responding FASCV members were Don Gilbert (Driver), John Whiteside (Driver), Bruce Dembecki, John Whitaker, George Hoyt, Mike Chappell, Ron Green, Rick James, Bob Gundrum and guest, Walter Huber.
-- Report submitted by John Whitaker

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

San Jose Firefighters Tackle 3-Alarm Nursery Fire

Photo By John Whitaker
Photo By John Whitaker
As the clock struck midnight, firefighters from the San Jose Fire Department struck a 3rd alarm at a popular plant nursery. Located at 4606 Almaden Expy., the Summerwinds Nursery has provided the plants for many, if not most, gardens in South San Jose. Now, the main building was fully engulfed in flame.

When the SJFD paged Fire Associates at 12:20 A.M. on Wednesday morning August 29th, Bruce Dembecki responded with Fire Support Unit 2. It was the middle of night for most people, but San Jose firefighters were hard at work. They were soon joined by FASCV members John Whitaker, George Hoyt, Mike Chappell, Dan Wong and guest, Walter Huber.
The first-arriving units found the front of the wood structure fully involved with the flames quickly spreading to the interior of the building. After the IC surveyed the scene, a second alarm was quickly called. Anyone who has been inside the business knows that the entire interior was wide open with cathedral ceilings. That was a lot of open space for the flames to spread and the interior was filled with fertilizers, pesticides and indoor plants that provided a lot of fuel for the fire. Because the entire structure was fully involved, the strategy early on was for a defensive attack. While two master streams were aimed at the center of the building, one from the "Bravo" side and one on the "Delta" side, other teams concentrated on hot spots on the exterior of the blaze.
Photo By Bruce Dembecki
At the direction of SJFD Med30, Fire Associates set up rehab in the slow lane of Almaden Expy., near the "Alpha-Delta" corner. The nighttime temperatures were still warm throughout the incident's duration, so water and Gatorade were in demand. However, several pots of coffee helped to keep fire crews, and FASCV members, alert during the wee hours of the morning.

With the fire operation in overhaul mode, and police wanting to open up Almaden Expy. for the quickly approaching commute hour, FSU-2 was released at: 04:15 A.M.
-- Report submitted by John Whitaker

Friday, August 24, 2012

Fire Associates Responds to Sunnyvale Moble Home Fire

Photo By Bruce Dembecki
Date and Time: 24 Aug. 2012, 10:30 P.M.
Agency: Sunnyvale
Incident Address: 1050 Borregas Ave., Sunnyvale
Type: Second alarm
Details: Double-wide mobile home. Close exposures.
Agency Responders:
SNY: E-1, 2, 5, 6, 60; T-2; R-2; IC-Discher
SNC and MTV: Assisted with brief station fill
FASCV Responding Unit:
Initially Carr in FSU-4, then Haag substituted in FSU-1 after FSU-4 battery failure. Arrived: 2318, released: 0100 hours.

FASCV Responders: Jerry Haag (driver), Ron Green, Dan Wong, Larry Carr, Bruce Dembechi, George Hoyt and Walter Huber (guest).
-- Report submitted by Jerry Haag

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

FASCV Responds to House Fire In South San Jose

Photo By Bruce Dembecki
On Tuesday night, August 14, Fire Associates was paged by the San Jose Fire Department to a house fire in South San Jose. The 10:52 P.M. call was for a house fire at 6263 Lean Ave. John Whitesdie responded for Fire Associates in Fire Support Unit 3. He was met at the fire by Bruce Dembecki, John Whitaker and Walter Huber (guest), and later, Dan Wong arrived on scene.
The fire was officially listed as a first alarm response, but with an extra truck company on scene, and an additional engine company, the IC reported that they were actually one engine short of a 2nd alarm. The first-due truck company (T-35) was busy on a medical call at the time of the dispatch, but made themselves available within a short time.

First-arriving engine companies reported flames above the roof on the "Charlie" side of the two-story structure. Crews on the ground reported that flames were coming out of both upstairs windows on the back of the home. Two attack lines were placed into the building and the interior firefighters reported "...heavy flames at the top of the stairs." With all residents and several pets safely outside, the truck companies concentrated on ventilation of the roof and one crew was assigned to begin pulling ceilings to expose more of the fire. In addition, crews reported that the upstairs floor was also burning, so a third attack line was positioned on the ground floor. After knockdown was achieved, the fire required extensive overhaul. The overhaul work was complicated by the fact that the fire had burned a hole from the second floor through to the first floor.

Fire Associates provided the usual coffee, Gatorade, water and lemonade to exhausted firefighters in Rehab. Although it was a middle-of-the-night fire, the nighttime summer temperature of 64 degrees made the firefighting effort hotter than usual. After all crews were rested, FSU-3 was released from service at 1:20 A.M.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Fire Associates Called to Grass Fire In Palo Alto

Date and Time: 08 August 2012, 6:46 P.M.
Agency: Palo Alto Fire
Incident Address: Arastradero Preserve, 1529 Arastradero Rd., near Page Mill Rd., Palo Alto
Type: Special Call
Details: Low lying vegetation fire. No structures involved.
Responding Agencies: Palo Alto, Santa Clara County, Woodside and Cal Fire (Type 3 engines, air resources, 2 hand crews)

FASCV Responding Unit: FSU-1
FASCV Responders: Len Williams (Driver),  Jerry Haag and Walter Huber (guest)
Arrived: 7:15 P.M., released: 9:00 P.M.
-- Report submitted by Jerry Haag

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Multiple-Alarm Los Gatos Vegetation Fire Spreads into Apartment Parking Lots

Photo By Brian A. Floyd
Shortly before 6:00 P.M. on Thursday, August 2, Santa Clara County Fire began receiving reports of a grass fire in Los Gatos, between residences on Calle Marguerita and Hwy 85. What started as a brush response was quickly upgraded to a full Brush Alarm, and then a second Brush Alarm. The fire was burning in a strip of vegetation sandwiched between the apartment building parkinglot and the Union Pacific railroad tracks that run under some high-tension power lines alongside Highway 85.
Units on scene were confronted with a medium-intensity grass fire, some burning trees, and then several out-buildings and parked vehicles began burning. At that point, a Full First Alarm Structure Assignment was added to the response to deal with the burning buildings and evacuating the nearby apartment buildings. Additional units were requested from San Jose Fire Department. County Fire also used units from San Jose and Sunnyvale Fire Departments to provide Station coverage.
As this incident was developing, Fire Associates members were en route to their monthly meeting at County Fire's Shannon Fire Station in Los Gatos. Several members responded to the fire instead of the meeting, with Bruce Dembecki fetching Fire Support Unit 2, and being met on scene by John Whiteside, John Whitaker and, as a pleasant surprise, Fire Associates member Jill Levy made a guest appearance.
Photo By Bruce Dembecki
Cold drinks were the order of the day with water, lemonade and Gatorade being popular with fire crews. Although the threat level was high, the fire was quickly contained and crews were released to return to service in a short amount of time. Fire Support Unit 2 and the FASCV members on scene were released in time to join the Fire Associates meeting underway outdoors behind Shannon Station (County Engine 6, normally stationed at Shannon, was on scene at the fire!).
-- Story submitted by Bruce Dembecki