Two structure fires on Tuesday, 5 April, demonstrated the true diversity within the arena of suppression response routinely encountered by the men and women of the Jacksonville Fire/Rescue Department. The arrival of yet another powerful storm cell early that morning promptly resulted in a lightning strike leading to a residential fire in the 7300 block of Melvin Circle North. Just after 8 AM the homeowner noted a bright flash and loud boom near the property, with a corresponding inspection of the area revealing the frightening visual of smoke and flame rising up from the roof of the attached garage. By the time firefighters arrived on scene, the fire had already managed to spread from the garage to the main house and crews had to act quickly to bring the blaze under control before the flames could consume even more areas of the structure. Following twenty minutes of intensive work, the incident was called under control and damage assessment revealed nearly a third of the home severely blemished by the fire. Later that evening, shortly after 9 PM, units responded to another structure fire albeit one free from any involvement by Mother Nature. This time the city's north-west section was involved, as the incident was reported from the 3500 block of Imeson Road. Specifically, a double wide manufactured home was the scene of heavy black smoke pouring out from the front door as firefighters arrived, with an adult female already outside standing in the front yard. The crew from Engine 26 'B' was informed that an adult male was still inside and, indeed, it was discovered that the man was standing in the front living room disoriented, incapable of extricating himself from the swirling, thick cloud of black smoke circling all about him. Escorted to safety outside of the home, the man began to explain that the origin of the fire was due to an issue with the portable space heater kept in the front living room. With the fire soon extinguished, in less than 5 minutes, and both adult residents transported by Rescue 32 to an area hospital for precautionary reasons, the subsequent overhaul seemed to confirm the account delivered by the occupant as a space heater was found underneath a multitude of melted and charred debris. The residence itself sustained damage only to that front living room, a minimalism that represents a rare occurrence when dealing with fires involving manufactured homes.
Guns 'n' Hoses
Contested at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena on April 16, this year’s Guns ‘n’ Hoses match marked the 13th
time that police and firefighters from local and neighboring departments have squared off in the annual amateur boxing event.
Law enforcement, representing the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), claimed an early lead and maintained it until back-to-back wins in the fifth and sixth bouts from the firefighters’ team representing the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF). Decisive victories by JFRD’s Robert Kappelmann (Engine 5) and Lamar Roberts (Engine 36) tied fight night.
Police briefly regained the lead after the seventh bout when JSO’s Carl “The Cobra” Graham, the oldest competitor at 45, defeated his 31-year-old opponent. Then JFRD firefighters, including Engine 25’s Jack Mounce and Engine 152’s Anthony Principe, launched a four-in-a-row romp through the ring.
With four bouts left, Fight Night stood at 7-4 in favor of the firefighters. But two subsequent victories by police made the 14th bout pivotal, as Nassau County Fire Rescue’s David Sallette could win it outright for IAFF. The 21-year-old’s opponent was Carl "The Cobra" Graham’s son, Sean, 22. Sallette prevailed and helped IAFF earn its seventh Guns ‘n’ Hoses title since the charity event’s inception in 1999. FOP claimed the final bout this year, finishing the night with seven bouts to IAFF’s eight.
The all-time Guns ‘n’ Hoses record is IAFF 7, FOP 4, and two draws. Proceeds from the event benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association and the Police Athletic League.
Early Monday morning, April 25th and just after 6:30, units were dispatched to what would become one of the more challenging fire scenes encountered in quite some time. The three story and over 15,000 square foot former Jewish Center and Job Corps of Jacksonville building, located in the 200 block of West 3rd Street, had heavy smoke pouring from a third floor window as the first crews arrived on scene. With archetypal courage and alacrity, firefighters forced entry into the building in order to initiate an interior attack and prevent any forward progress of the fire. While some of the dispatched responders made their way up the stairwell on the north-east side of the building, a location directly under the visible smoke and flame billowing out from the third floor on that side of the building, other crews were forcing entry into the building from the south ground floor in order to work their way back toward the perceived seat of the fire. Ladder 4's crew, in the meantime, had ascended onto the roof to pull off natural ventilation while Command continued to assess residential exposures that were right across the street from the actual scene of the fire. Within 15 minutes of these coordinated objectives and just before the interior sector on the north-east side could reach the fire, a huge fireball vented through the roof as flames breached and began to rapidly travel through the huge, common attic space from the north end to the south end of the building: air horns were promptly sounded and all offensive measures were rescinded, as firefighters from each sector pulled back and aerials were set up to begin using these ladder pipes to drown the fire. As a Second Alarm was sounded, firefighters began to watch over 3,000 gallons per minute of water cascade onto the building, a structure that began to show significant signs of stress and fatigue as smoke began to visibly fizzle in between joists. Eventually the fire was called under control after nearly two hours of focused suppression activity, with the building barely surviving and narrowly avoiding a near collapse. With damage estimates well above $500,000, the State Fire Marshal's office was notified to join in the investigation, an act that was severely impeded by the unstable nature of the building and corresponding inability of the on scene investigators to enter into the structure to begin their search for clues. Speaking of the building's condition after the fire: as its condition represented a serious hazard to the immediate community, this historic landmark was demolished the very next day by local wrecking crews and the investigation into both causation and point of origin was now able to begin in earnest.