Sunday, December 15, 2013

Government Shutdown?

Amherst Town Hall inaccessible at the moment

Just after 6:00 PM last night, as our first real winter storm was starting to pick up steam, an emergency call came in reporting a contained "stove fire" at 711 Main Street about a mile downhill from town center.  

The first unit on the scene reported heavy smoke and -- even more alarming -- that the fire was not contained within the stove.  A "box alarm" was struck, automatically toning off duty personnel and call firefighters.

Two engines and an ambulance responded,  and the fire was quickly knocked down without injury.

 711 Main Street.  Large wood structure

 Total time on scene, just over an hour. 

I asked Assistant Chief Stromgren how unusual it is for a stove fire to break out of containment, wondering if the fire literally burns through the metal or does it just become so hot it transfers the heat to adjacent combustible materials?

He replied:

"It is a little unusual but does happen, as in this case.  The fire actually finds its way up and out thru the vent for the oven.  This fire was fueled by plastic Tupperware type products that had been stored in the lower half so it had a lot of fuel and burned hot enough to actually melt the metal vent louvers on the front of the oven."

As usual the incident was handled in a coordinated manner by public servants doing their job while the rest of us sheltered in place.

Dispatchers notify both APD and AFD and whoever is first on scene reports back initial impressions.  

In this case that initial assessment instantly escalated the response via a box alarm.  APD then shuts down Main Street above and below the house so firefighters can run a line to the nearest hydrant.  The chaplain also responds to help comfort the victims.

And the DPW had been out since early afternoon making sure the streets were passable for all us citizens but even more important -- emergency vehicles.

Because fire needs very little time to become a killer beast.


Anonymous said...

Larry, you imp, you. The gummint was closed already. You sure don't want to pay time and a half for someone to shovel, do you? It will be done in good, parsimonious, time. And thanks to our public safety personnel!

Anonymous said...

In the midst of a significant snowstorm, with below-freezing temperatures and the potential of a lot of water being used (as that sorta is how the fire would be fought were it as bad as feared -- I'd hope that the DPW pulled at least one plow/sander off the road and sent it to the scene to be of assistance.

If it, like the ambulance, isn't needed, fine -- isn't it better to have it there than not?

Firefighters really can't do much if they can't stand upright -- and rubber boots (or at least the ones I had/have) are particularly treacherous on wet ice. Which you would quickly have with water already frozen on the ground and more coming down on top of it...

This is the sort of situation where the sand truck (and I *think* that it would have to be a sand/salt mix and not the new spray stuff) could well be the most desperately needed piece of equipment on the scene. (It also likely would be quite helpful to plow the snow out of the way so the guys aren't stumbling around in it.)

If nothing else, a dump truck and a pile on the lawn, with the ability to bring more loads as needed as the firefighters themselves could spread it if they have it! Even without the wind blowing (and the spray drifting around with it), you're going to have a significant ice buildup and need to keep putting grit down so the guys can walk.

Ever see the "morning after" pictures of a major fire in the winter? Ever notice how there is ice absolutely everywhere? And even with chains, fire trucks can't always get up hills on their own -- I personally remember one situation where it not only was necessary to wait for the sander but the sander had to go up the hill backwards -- sanding it's own path first.

Like I said, and at the expense of reduced snow clearing elsewhere in town, I'd like to think that the DPW diverted at least one truck for this until it was known it wasn't needed....

Anonymous said...

There are plans in place for a coordinated DPW response if necessary due to a public safety emergency. It may not be sent automatically, but once an update is received, if it calls for DPW, they will respond and be sent.