On Tuesday, 7 September, units were dispatched to a possible HAZMAT incident at the Jacksonville Jewish Center located at 3662 Crown Point Road. Apparently around 1 p.m. that day, an adult female employee had opened an envelope addressed to the facility when she suddenly began to feel ill and uncomfortable. The subsequent 9-1-1 call resulted in the gathering of representatives from several agencies, including the JFRD's Hazardous Materials Team, with the latter immediately establishing hot, warm and cold zones, notifying the State Warning Point, and performing a litany of other mandated procedures as established by federal protocols. Although the threat level of the incident was soon categorized as low, emergency measures did lead to a precautionary series of technical decontamination objectives directed at civilians and responders alike. The initial patient was treated and transported in stable condition to an area hospital and all evidence was collected, placed into appropriate containers and delivered to law enforcement who, in turn, transported the materials for testing with the State Health Department. After air monitoring determined the area free of pathogens, the incident was terminated and catalogued as yet another opportunity of putting into practice the knowledge acquired through many hours of training by the members of the HAZMAT Team.
Tragedy struck Monday afternoon, 13 September, as units were dispatched to a structure fire in the 8900 hundred block of Yeoman Court in the city's northwestern quadrant. As the crews arrived on scene they could see heavy smoke pouring out of the front windows of the single story, single family concrete block house. Rapidly entering into the home, the crews made their way through a veritable maze of rooms only to discover an elderly couple, deceased and huddled closely together on and near a bed in one of the five bedrooms within the house. The investigation soon revealed the sad discovery of an inoperable smoke detector in the house, with the probable cause of the fire attributed to a faulty electrical outlet.
The Fire Museum will officially unveil and reveal to the public the new Fallen Firefighter Memorial Wall on Friday, September 17. In a ceremony scheduled to begin at 11:30 AM and expected to include Mayor John Peyton, the latest addition to the Museum represents the culmination of hard work and completely donated time and materials contributed by a host of individuals.
The four story nursing home known as 'Emeritus' and located at 10790 Old St. Augustine Road became the site of a Second Alarm early Saturday morning, September 18, just before 1 AM. Although the fire proved to be relatively insignificant, merely a dryer in the laundry room emitting sparks and smoke, the heavy smoke managed to spread throughout many floors within the building resulting in mandatory evacuation measures. The aforementioned, in turn, required both an almost room-by-room ventilation objective coupled with air monitoring, as well as the establishment of a comprehensive medical sector in the parking lot to assist the temporarily displaced nursing home patients. All in all the event went smoothly, with no injuries reported, and once again demonstrated just how true this axiom is: 'firefighting is a manpower and labor intensive profession.'
Just over 24 hours later firefighters faced a more traditional Second Alarm assignment at the 'Woodlands' apartment complex in the 2600 block of Art Museum Drive. Sunday morning, September 19 and just after 3 AM, units responded to heavy smoke and flames showing through a vacant apartment located on the upper floor of the two story, 8 apartment unit Building 7 within the complex. As all of the apartment units in the building were unoccupied, firefighters were able to rapidly advance several attack lines up the breezeway on the opposite side of the building from where the fire raged. From there, the crews aggressively moved forward toward the seat of the fire where additional crews were already making progress with a direct attack and exposure protection. The fire was called under control in less than 20 minutes, an astounding fact considering the heavy fuel load and other conditions that were initially encountered. The investigation quickly discovered that electrical services did not exist for the entire building, with the complex having a history of trespassing within many of the unoccupied apartment units; ergo, vagrant activity of some sort led to an accidental fire that could have been far worse had it not been for the exceptional firefighting skills on display that morning.