As usual, the month of October will see another installation of the annual Fallen Firefighters' Memorial ceremony. This year's date is Thursday, October 8th at 10 AM at the memorial site located near Fire Station #1, 611 Liberty Street.
Another event and corresponding noteworthy date for the month of October is Friday, October 16, the day of the official ribbon cutting ceremony for 'new' Fire Station #28. Scheduled for 2 PM that afternoon, the new home for one of the busiest companies throughout the department is an incredible upgrade from the previous facility to a modern home away from home; the former having been nothing more than a motor vehicle inspection station converted into (what could only be best and politely described as) a meek imitation of what a Fire Station should look like. New Fire Station 28 will be the southside's version of a 'Super Station' with Rescue, Engine, Ladder, Tanker and District Chief all assigned to the facility.
An unusual response for members of the Department occurred close to 11 PM on Tuesday, October 6, in the 7600 block of Crest Drive on the city's westside. Officers from the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office were disptached to perform a Wellness Check, as the elderly female occupant of the home had not been seen or heard from by family members for several days. Arriving at the scene and receiving no response despite repeated knocking on doors and windows, as well as calling the listed telephone number for the address, police officers requested assistance from Fire/Rescue in order to perform forcible entry into the home. Ladder 32 responded and, after successfully opening a back patio door, left the scene as law enforcement entered into the home. Nearly twenty minutes later, Ladder 32 picked up a dispatch on behalf of the Engine Company and returned to that same address; police officers at the scene were suddenly feeling considerable discomfort after having been inside the home. Two law enforcement officers were subsequently transported to an area hospital for pre-cautionary reasons, and the HAZMAT Team was summoned in order to thoroughly examine the conditions and overall environment inside of the home. The discovery made by the JFRD first responders who entered into the home was astonishing and quickly provided insight into the experience encountered by the police officers: piled more than seven feet high and nearly touching the ceiling throughout virtually every inch of the one story, 1,700 square foot home, were mounds and mounds of debris and trash. The nauseating odors confined inside of the home made it impossible to be anywhere in close proximity to the garbage without an SCBA. With the whereabouts of the missing woman still the top priority, the K-9 unit from the Urban Search and Rescue Team was brought to the scene. Following the expert determination by the HAZMAT Team and their sophisticated metering/monitoring technology that no perilous substances were hidden or undetected within the piles of refuse, the first of the two Search and Rescue dogs entered into the home. Both dogs, once inside the dwelling, could be observed walking on top of the heaps of trash, their heads just inches below the ceiling. After all of the activity, and without successfully locating the missing person, JFRD terminated Command and corresponding on scene assistance to law enforcement. JSO continued with their efforts and, during the early morning hours after dawn, successfully located the missing woman - found, unfortunately, deceased inside of her home.
A far more conventional emergency response was encountered by firefighters on October 13, just after 1:30 AM. A JSO helicopter relayed information that a huge glowing ball of orange could be seen near the Fort Caroline and Hartsfield area of Arlington, and first arriving units confirmed that a single family, single story woodframe home was fully involved, with flames shooting through the roof and breaching through the windows. With the fire this advanced, the crews at the scene pursued a strict defensive posture, made all the more difficult by downed power lines and a 250 pound propane cylinder that was venting even as the first combat units arrived at the scene. Through timely and well constructed coordination of combat activities, the firefighters overcame the obstacles present and successfully dealt with the multitude of exposures present. With the fire called under control in little over an hour, the investigation into the cause of the fire that led to the complete loss of the structure could begin in earnest: the primary focus being the possibility of a lightning strike following the heavy storms of the evening and late night.