Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Second Grass Fire of the Day Keeps Firefighters and Fire Associates Busy

The second grass fire of the day occurred around 2100 hours in Hellyer Park. San Jose Fire dispatched a Tier 2 response, plus CalFire engine support, to Coyote Road and Continental Drive, to a fire along/in Coyote Creek. John Whiteside, monitoring the radio, contacted Don Gilbert and they responded with FSU #3 before the page request was received. They were assisted on-scene by George Hoyt, Dan Wong, and guest Walter Huber.
Bottled water, Gatorade and Blueberry and CLIF bars with coffee were welcomed by the crews, most of them the same responders from the earlier grass fire described in the previous blog item. One engine crew had not eaten all day so George picked up meals for the 4-man crew. FSU #3 returned to quarters just before midnight.
On Thursday, May 23, just after 1500 hours Don Gilbert respondedin FSU #2 to another San Jose Tier 2 grass fire in/along Coyote Creek at Brokaw Road and I-880. He was assisted by George Hoyt. The fire consumed about 2 acres and was miles from the Creek fire described earlier. CalFire sent a Hand Crew. FSU #2 returned to quarters about 1800 hours. 
-- Report submitted by John Whiteside

CalFire Joined San Jose Firefighters for Grassland Blaze

On May 22, just after 1130 hours, San Jose Fire asked Fire Associates to respond to a Tier 2 (2nd alarm) fast moving, wind-driven flatland grass fire at Singleton Road and Locke Drive, the site of an old sanitary landfill. CalFire support also was en route with engines, copter, and a dozer.
John Whiteside responded to SJ Station 35 to take Fire Support Unit #3 to the fire. He arrived on scene around 1200providing bottled water and Gatorade, plus Blueberry and CLIF bars. He was supported by George Hoyt, Dan Wong, and guest Walter Huber. 
The 7-acre fire threatened structures downwind but was stopped just short of them. John was released and returned to Station 35 by 1430 hours.  
-- Report submitted by John Whiteside

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Grass Fires Along Hwy. 237 Prove Challenging for Firefighters

Photo By John Whitaker
On Tuesday afternoon, May 14, John Whiteside was at San Jose Station 35 doing FSU-3 maintenance when a series of vegetation fires erupted along Hwy. 237 at North First Street in San Jose near the Sunnyvale border. With 3 different fire locations, totaling 4 acres, the event became a multi-alarm response for San Jose and Sunnyvale. San Jose sent 5 engines, 2 water tenders and 1 BC; Sunnyvale sent 5 engines and 1 BC.
The 237 Highway and N. First Street had to be shutdown in all directions due to smoke and also to allow fire equipment access along the westbound side to fight the fires. The water tenders and several engines made many water shuttles to the many engine companies who had hose lines deployed. Needless to say, at the height of the rush hour, this caused serious traffic problems. Engines were stationed on all the access ramps at the interchange as well as along the shoulder and slow lane of Hwy. 237.
The highway shutdown caused tremendous traffic jams in the high-tech area of north San Jose which lasted for several hours. There was a huge response by police officials from San Jose, Sunnyvale, and CHP for a massive traffic control effort.
Photo By Bruce Dembecki
Fire Associates were paged at 1438 hours for a Fire Support Unit response. After a telephone consultation with Jerry Haag and John Whitaker as to which unit would respond, John Whiteside quickly filled FSU-3’s potable water tank that he had just emptied and departed for the fires via Hwy. 101, arriving around 1500. He was joined on scene by FASCV members Bruce Dembecki, John Whitaker and Walter Huber (guest).
Rehab was set up next to the Incident Command vehicle and dispensed water, lemonade, Gatorade and Clif bars to firefighters. FSU-3 was released about 1700 and was in quarters at Station 35 by 1815. There were numerous smoke reports the following day, requiring engine responses to the same area.

-- Report submitted by John Whiteside

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Sheriff's Dive Team Calls for Fire Associates

Photo By Los Gatos Patch
At approximately 1300 on Sunday, May 5, four adults in a canoe on a choppy Lexington Reservoir, near Los Gatos, suffered a boating mishap and were in 60+F degree water. Two adults made it safely to shore - but two others did not. A search was begun by quick-arriving Central Fire, County Parks, and the Santa Clara County Sheriffs Dive Team personnel. A helicopter and boats using electronic detection gear went to work. Within an hour, the first missing person was recovered and transported to a local hospital. The search continued for the fourth person.
At 1607, Fire Associates members were paged to respond with a Fire Support Unit. John Whiteside, who had been monitoring the event via radio, responded in FSU #3 from San Jose Station 35, arriving before 1700. Soon after Johns arrival, the fourth person was recovered and was also transported to a local hospital. George Hoyt picked up meals and Dan Wong assisted John in setting up equipment. Hot coffee, water, and Clif bars were the favorites, especially for the divers. Fire Associates were released around 1830.
-- Report submitted by John Whiteside

Thursday, May 2, 2013

San Jose Paper Recycling Facility Fire Goes to A 3rd Alarm

Photo By John Whitaker
At approximately 6:00 P.M. on Thursday, May 2, as Fire Support Unit 2 was en route to the monthly Fire Associates meeting being held in Morgan Hill, San Jose Fire received reports of a blaze in the recycling facility at 388 E. Alma Ave. The first unit on the air was John Whiteside in Fire Support 2 reporting "Smoke Showing" from Capitol Expressway. After reporting on this condition, FSU-2 continued to the scheduled meeting in Morgan Hill.
Over on Alma Ave., a fire had started in the recycled cardboard bales. Units had huge amounts of fuel in the form of bales of cardboard to contend with, and the incident quickly escalated to a second and then 3rd alarm. With 90+ degree heat that evening, and what was clearly going to be an extended operation, IC B/C Robert Sapien requested a Fire Associates response with the 2nd alarm.
FSU-2 was already committed to southbound Hwy. 101, so Fire Associates member Bruce Dembecki responded to San Jose Fire Station 35 to pick up Support Unit 3. En route, the incident was escalated to a 3rd alarm. Upon arrival, Bruce set up Rehab outside the main gate of the facility on E. Alma Ave. with the help of FASCV guest, Walter Huber. While cold drinks were the priority, incident commanders were also concerned about feeding their crews as those one scene with the first and second alarms had been dispatched before they had eaten their evening meals.
Walter Huber made a food run while Bruce dealt with Rehab and the fire crews dealt with the blaze.
The only way to extinguish the piles of burning cardboard was to get in and break up the bales. With the help of the facility's front-end loaders, crews started unstacking the burning bales and breaking them up, while Trucks 1 and 30 ran their Master streams over on the B/C corner. Foam Unit 29 was also called in to lend a hand. It was going to be a long night for fire crews.
With the high heat and the physical nature of the work, cold drinks were in demand, and the ice supply in FSU-3 started to run low. John Whiteside in FSU-2 arrived at just the right time, fully loaded with ice. Along with John, Fire Associates members John Whitaker and George Hoyt also arrived after the Fire Associates meeting to lend a hand.
By 11:00 P.M., the initial crews on scene had been replaced with a smaller contingent of fresh crews, ostensibly to maintain "Fire Watch" overnight. The fire was certainly contained, but the cardboard bales were still burning and still being pulled apart, and the new trucks set up in place of the original trucks and ran their Master Streams. With fresh crews and plans for replacements every 3 hours during the night, Rehab was disbanded and Fire Support Unit 3 was released around 11:30 P.M.
-- Report submitted by Bruce Dembecki