Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Years Eve Vegetation Fire Not A Surprise During Dry Year

On Tues., Dec. 31, at approximately 7:15 A.M., John Whiteside was having a cup of coffee when FASCV President Jerry Haag called about radio traffic dispatching a fire on Mt. Hamilton, east of San Jose. The fire was reported to be  several miles west of the Lick Observatory on Calif. Hwy. 130. John knew a controlled burn was being planned, so he called Cal Fire dispatch to inquire if this was that fire, or something. In addition, he wanted to know if  Cal Fire VIPs or Fire Associates would be requested. The answer was, “A wildland fire, 40 acres with a potential of 200”, and please respond Fire Associates!"
John informed Jerry of the request as both FASCV members were scheduled to support a continuing County Fire training exercise that afternoon. Jerry told John to take the fire call and he would handle the training exercise. John’s personal vehicle was in the shop, so he called member Don Gilbert to inform him, ask if he could go, and would he pick John up at home? Then, John notified Sonitrol to page out the dispatch. En route to San Jose Station 6 to get Fire Support Unit 2, they picked up breakfast to eat en route -- a trip of approximately 23 miles, on a curvy, hilly road. The fire was located within Joseph Grant County Park, 2 miles east of the main entrance.
Cal Fire’s Morgan Hill headquarters had dispatched a response at 5:27 A.M., eventually including air tankers, copters, dozers, hand crews, engines, and requested mutual aid engines and water tenders from San Jose, Spring Valley Volunteers, and Santa Clara County Fire Departments. Most of the forest fire stations have been closed for the winter.
After distributing drinks to the rigs on Mt. Hamilton Road, FSU-2 was directed to enter the fire area at Twin Gates Trailhead (about 1 mile west of Cal Fire Station 12, Smith Creek) and proceed off-road to the head of the fire -- now no longer a threat. On a hilltop near the Command Post, rehab was set up and supported lunch distribution at approximately 2:00 P.M. FSU-2 was released and reached the valley floor around 4:00 P.M. Upon FSU-2's arrival back in San Jose, the on-duty fire crew at Station 6 voluntarily washed the rig, which was covered with a fine-powder dust.

This was the last run for 2013.
Resources that were requested or on scene (from Cal Fire - Morgan Hill):
  • Cal Fire:  Battalions 1600, 1605, and 1611; Prevention 1621; Captain 1632; Engines 1661, 1662, 1664, 1666, and 1681; CZU Engines 1766, 1768, and 1769; Ben Lomond Crews 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5; CZU Dozer 1741; BEU Dozer 4641; Copters 104 and 406; and Air Tankers 80 and 81.
  • Spring Valley Volunteers:  Chiefs 1 and 2; Engines 22 and 52; and Patrol 22.
  • San Jose Fire:  Battalion 2; Engines 2, 18, 13, and 31; and Water Tenders 2, 13, and 18.
  • Santa Clara County Fire:  Engines 301 and 306.
-- Report submitted by John Whiteside

Sunday, December 29, 2013

House Burns In Rural Area of Morgan Hill

Photo By Bruce Dembecki
At 3:15 A.M. on Sunday morning, Dec. 29, Morgan Hill Fire received reports of a house ablaze at 324 Casa Loma Road in an unincorporated area of Morgan Hill. Responding units included South Santa Clara County Fire, Morgan Hill Fire, Cal Fire, and San Jose Fire Units.
The home owner had been awoken by functioning smoke detectors and upon a search of the home found downstairs was clear, but upstairs was somewhat smokey. Outside, they discovered a chimney fire and set about attacking the fire with a garden hose. They quickly realized the fire was out of control and evacuated, finding pets and getting out, while calling 911. Fire units making the trek out to Casa Loma Rd. discovered a two-story residence fully engulfed in flames.
Water Tenders were used to establish a water supply from a hydrant back at the Cinnabar Hills Golf course while engine crews worked to keep the fire out of the vegetation and nearby exposures safe. The home was completely destroyed, with nothing more than the original chimney and half a wall here and there remaining.
Fire Associates were requested shortly before 5:00 A.M. and were on the road shortly thereafter. John Whiteside brought Fire Support Unit 3 to the scene and was met by Bruce Dembecki. Coffee and donuts were the order of the day, as temperatures were in the low 30s upon arrival of FSU-3. Fire Associates remained on scene until the night crews were replaced by a fresh shift to oversee the mop-up operations, and were released soon after 9:00 A.M. Fire Associates left the fireground at 9:20 A.M. and FSU-3 was back at San Jose Fire Station 35 by 10:00 A.M.
Thanks to the home owners functioning smoke detectors, no-one was injured, though there was nothing left of the house.
-- Report submitted by Bruce Dembecki

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve Fire Involves Commercial Building in Sunnyvale

Photo By David Thompson
Date and Time: 12-24-2013, 0706 hours
Agency:  Sunnyvale Public Safety
Incident Address: 222 Caspian Dr., Sunnyvale
Type: Second Alarm
Details: Fire in roofing material of a sprinklered, single-story, tilt-up, large commercial/R&D Building.
Agency Responders:
SNY: E-1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 60; T-1, 2; R-2; Batt. 1 (IC-Rushmeyer)
MTV: Station fill
SNC: E9 covered SNY Sta. 2
FASCV Responding Units: FSU-1. Released: 0815 hours.
FASCV Responders: Bob Gundrum (driver), Jerry Haag, and Dan Wong.
-- Report submitted by Jerry Haag

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Quick Attacked Douses 2-Alarm Apartment Fire In San Jose

Photo By Bruce Dembecki
After a full day on scene with San Jose Firefighters for their Typhoon Haiyan fundraiser event, Fire Associates member Bruce Dembecki had just finished restocking the ice in the Fire Associates freezer at Fire Station 6 and was ready to head home around 4:30 P.M. when the Station bells went off. Engine 6 and others were dispatched to a report of a multi-unit apartment building on fire at 892 Delmas Ave.
While Engine 6 rocketed out the door, Bruce took a couple of minutes to load some ice back into Fire Support Unit 2 and casually headed off to the nearby fire ground. Truck 30 reported a large column of smoke visible from their fire station, and Engine 3 quickly reported themselves on scene, with heavy smoke on all sides of the building and flames shooting out of the second floor windows on both sides of the buildings. Additionally, they reported the exposure on the Bravo side was at risk and immediately requested a second alarm.
Photo By Bruce Dembecki
Bruce let San Jose Fire dispatchers know that FSU-2 was attaching to the incident and unusually arrived on scene - well before the second alarm units. After checking in with Med 30, it was decided that FSU-2 would establish informal rehab on the south side of the incident and cold drinks, seating, and snack foods were quickly set up for fire crews. Fire Associates member John Whitaker also responded to the scene, having heard the initial radio traffic and being aware that FSU-2 was on scene.
Firefighters were able to quickly knock down the fire, but not before 17 people were displaced by the fire - fortunately no one was injured. Crews enjoyed the cold drinks over in Rehab and at 5:40 P.M. FSU-2 was released from the scene and returned to Fire Station 6.
-- Report submitted by Bruce Dembecki

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Location of Los Altos Hills Fire Provides Challenge for Firefighters and FASCV Members

Date and Time: 12-19-2013, 1716 hours
Agency: Santa Clara County Fire Dept.
Incident Address: 26060 Newbridge Dr., Los Altos Hills
Type: Second Alarm
Details: Fire in a large, 2-story, single-family dwelling. Well-involved upon arrival of R-14 who laid a 5-in. supply line up a long, steep driveway to initiate fire attack. FASCV member Larry Carr and company also hand-jacked table, ice, water, Gatorade, energy bars, etc. up the same driveway to set-up Rehab. The old guys can still hack it!
Agency Responders:
CNT: E-1, 3, 7, 15, 16, 17; T-1; R-14 (fire attack with 3 2-1/2" lines), 17; Batt. 2, 3, 14 (IC-Bowden)
FASCV Responding Units: FSU-4. Released: 1930 hours.
FASCV Responders: Larry Carr (driver), Jerry Haag, and Dan Wong.

-- Report submitted by Jerry Haag

Monday, December 9, 2013

Sonitrol Services Help FASCV Provide 44 Years of Aid to Local Fire Departments

FASCV President Jerry Haag and Vice President Bob Gumdrum present
Don Herzig of Sonitrol an award of appreciation for the dispatching
services the local security company provides.

Photo By John Whitaker

In November of this year, Fire Associates of Santa Clara Valley (FASCV) celebrated 44 years of providing volunteer service to the fire departments of Santa Clara County. Begun in November of 1969, the members of FASCV have been meeting the on-scene canteen and rehab needs of firefighters from all 12 fire agencies located in Silicon Valley. For a non-profit agency to be in existence for 44 years is an achievement all by itself, never mind that fact that our volunteer members have been responding 24/7, in all types of weather conditions.
But, besides the organization's dedicated members, and the many people who donate to the cause, there is another key, unsung member of the team.
Sonitrol - Pacific West Security, Inc. has been providing dispatch services to FASCV since 1980 when former FASCV member Al Brenner arranged for the company to provide free emergency dispatching for FASCV as a community service. Sonitrol is a locally owned, independent franchise affiliated with the Sonitrol Corporation based in Berwyn, Pennsylvania. The company maintains offices on Schallenberger Rd. in San Jose for alarm sales, installation, and monitoring.
To recognize the value that Sonitrol adds to the efforts of Fire Associates, FASCV President Jerry Haag, Vice President Bob Gundrum, and former President John Whitaker recently presented the security company with a plaque of appreciation. The plaque reads, "Awarded to Sonitrol of Silicon Valley for Service to Fire Associates of Santa Clara Valley Since 1980, December 6, 2013."
Accepting the award was Sonitrol Central Station Manager Don Herzig. Don commented that all the employees at the San Jose office were glad to provide the service to Fire Associates because of the importance of FASCV's service to local fire departments.

-- Report submitted by John Whitaker