Although it is certainly not unusual for individuals in need of immediate assistance to personally seek out the closest fire station without even activating the emergency 9-1-1 system, the JFRD did experience two incredibly tragic events containing the aforementioned element within the narrative in the unusually short time span of two days: a unique and non-quotidian scenario that became the newsworthy item of that moment. Beginning Sunday evening the 13th of November at Fire Station 18 when several individuals severely injured by gunshots (including one pediatric patient) arrived at the station by personal vehicle, and culminating with a similar emergency (minus the pediatric element) on November 15 at Fire Station 36, the JFRD found itself thrust into the public safety response for another episode of inexplicable and senseless violence. With several lives lost in both of these violent crimes, the approaching holiday season has already been, unfortunately, draped in a cloak of mourning and sorrow.
A venerated local establishment of 'live' adult entertainment known as the 'Gold Club' was forced to cease operations after nearly 25 years of business, the latter occurring in the aftermath of a Third Alarm fire that destroyed a significant area, both inside and outside of the structure, on Saturday, November 26. When the first arriving units dispatched to the scene approached the area shortly after 10 AM on the referenced date crews promptly reported that smoke was visibly pouring out of every window of the large building, well over 11,000 square feet in size, with flames licking the roofline and several spot fires noticed along the brush and grass of the outside area near the parking lot. That particular observation along with other details seemed to indicate that the fire had been burning, unreported and/or unnoticed, for quite some time, possibly even throughout the night: not exactly unique considering the relatively isolated location of the business. Firefighters began an initial interior attack, working their way toward the far west side of the building where an outdoor party area seemed to represent a potential area of origin; but, alas, the fire had created innumerable hot spots actively breaching through the metal roof that was on top of roof decking. That fact combined with a partial roof collapse quickly prompted Command to rescind the interior work and pull all firefighters out of the structure in order to assume a defensive posture and deploy a ladder pipe master stream. Called under control within approximately 45 minutes, the fire ground soon witnessed the Second Alarm assignment heightened to a Third Alarm for much needed, additional human resources. No injuries were reported from the fire and damage estimates were not immediately confirmed; the State Fire Marshal, however, was brought to the scene to determine both cause and area of origin.
The final day of the month, Wednesday 30 November, would see the JFRD garner local headlines for two major news-breaking events: one tragic and the other positively uplifting in every sense of the phrase. Units received a dispatch just after 9:30 AM on the referenced day and date to the report of a house fire with someone possibly trapped inside; as the crews arrived in the 7600 block of Coach Park Drive they could see a mobile home with flames running along the roofline near the rear of the residence, with heavy, non-diaphanous black clouds of smoke seeping out from all of the front windows. Having forced entry into the home, firefighters began the tedious task of working their way toward the back bedrooms where the heaviest fire activity could be observed, but in the process made the grisly discovery in the bathroom of a deceased adult male. The fire was brought under control shortly thereafter, with the State Fire Marshal notified in order for the investigative process to begin.
Just a few hours later, crews were once again summoned into action to a report involving - now get this - a MANATEE stuck in a storm drain at Davinci Avenue in the Ortega neighborhood of our city. Sure enough, road construction crews had made the discovery of an approximately 9 foot, 1,000 pound sea cow trapped in a 36 inch drainage pipe. After 5 hours of combined efforts performed by firefighters, public works and wildlife officials, the animal was placed on a makeshift sling and hoisted out of the confined space...with a subsequent transport to Orlando's SeaWorld complex for treatment and recovery, the completion of the latter ultimately leading to the mammal's return into the natural wildlife habitat the creature most assuredly missed throughout the ordeal.