A major "incident" scheduled on the JFRD calendar for this month is the graduation ceremony for Recruit Class 1-15. The aforementioned will be held at the Auditorium of the Downtown Campus of Florida State College on Thursday, 19 February at 7 PM. Welcome aboard, rookies!
Toward the end of the month the Department found itself prominently featured in the news, more specifically on the 24th and 25th, as two incidents created quite a challenge for Jacksonville's professional emergency responders. Tuesday the 24th and our Hazmat Team is called upon to respond to a reported gas leak downtown near Houston and Davis. Apparently workers arriving in the 'Pilkington Building' at approximately 8 AM smell the distinct oder of 'rotten eggs' and correctly evaluate same as the odor routinely attributed to natural gas. After alerting the JFRD, the business voluntarily stays closed for the day and the arriving firefighters need only to create a hot zone (no evacuations needed), focus on identifying the source and location of the odor and, if necessary, subsequently stop any leak and provide assistance to the repair professionals from the private gas company. Things don't go quite as smooth, however, and soon a 'bubbly' area around a coupling on a two-inch pipe comes undone, remaining nearly impossible to clamp shut. Although there is no flammable hazard associated with the event, other than directly in the hole where the pipe is located, the presence of firefighters for nearly 10 hours at the scene to stop the leak does create a degree of newsworthiness for the day. Eventually the leak is stopped and the private gas company can begin the repair work.
The very next day and now the Department is prominently featured during an apartment fire at 3400 Townsend. The "Avesta" apartment complex is the site at 10 AM, when both fire and a huge plume of smoke is detected from the roofline of the two story building. In spite of the typical aggressive and offense nature of our department's suppression efforts, the fire manages to make its way into the attic space, with the firewall showcasing an enormous amount of stress. Realizing that the flames would soon spread along the second floor attic area beyond the firewall, Command decides to abandon the offensive strategy and pull all of the crews out of the structure in order to call upon the power of Ladder 30's pipe and drown the blaze in a true defensive approach. With the aforementioned accomplished, the fire is called under control after nearly 30 minutes of focused activity but, alas, damages are quite substantial: 22 individual apartment units are rendered uninhabitable resulting in the displacement of 43 individuals. The State Fire Marshal was called to the scene and quickly deemed the fire to be 'suspicious,' with the investigation nonetheless still ongoing as to both cause and exact point of origin.