It would appear that this week is 'Evacuation Week' in Jacksonville! Following the Monday, January 30th evacuation scenarios involving a school and a business, the month of February began with the evacuation of First Coast High School on Duval Station Road shortly after 8 A.M. on Wednesday, February 1st. Inside a maintenance room, liquid anti-freeze found within the cooling system had managed to leak out of an expansion flex joint within the maze of pipes affixed to the system. This product, in essence a 'hot' liquid, turned to steam when brought into contact with the cold morning air and wafted down a hallway resembling a vapor cloud that was odiferous, let alone 'ominous.' The school immediately put their own evacuation procedures into effect (and should be commended for their effectiveness in the performance thereof) while awaiting the arrival of the JFRD. The HAZMAT Team and Fire 4 soon identified the product as outlined previously, and the environmentally safe conditions were also confirmed at that time. No injuries were reported, and only a few disgruntled students were observed following the report that it was safe to return to class.
Monday, February 6th, units received a dispatch to a report of a single family structure fire at 523 Basswood. The initial call also included information that an individual was possibly trapped inside the dwelling. Firefighters discovered upon arrival that the rear portion of the house had flames visible along with heavy smoke pouring out of almost every window. Lieutenant Bob Carroll along with Firefighter Chad Jewels, both from Tower Ladder 9, made entry through an unlocked door on the western side of the house and discovered the semi-conscious victim, a 63 year old male, sitting on the floor of the laundryroom. After removing the victim from the immediate threat, initial assessment and subsequent transport to Shands followed, all performed by the crew from Rescue 15. The victim was desribed as being in critical condition due to severe smoke inhalation. During the combat phase, which took approximately 12 minutes to extinguish the fire, two firefighters were injured and required transport to Baptist. The cause of the fire seemed to be an electric space heater located in the hallway of the home. The heater had apparently been located too close to common combustibles resulting in a spontaneous ignition. The investigators also determined that working smoke detectors were not present in the home, which incidentally sustained over $45,000 in damages to both content and structure.