The month of February got off to a rousing, auspicious start as the JFRD proudly welcomed new Recruit Class 2-17 into the fold on Monday, 6 February. The 18 new firefighters, including two female 'rookies,' officially began their training and new recruit orientation at the Fire/Rescue Training Academy Tuesday the 7th of February. Congratulations and, to borrow a nautical term, 'welcome aboard.'
An incredibly harrowing event for the crew of Squad 4 occurred on Friday, February 10, when what appeared to be a relatively routine and seemingly innocuous response to a residential structure fire in the 1900 block of Morgana Court morphed into a near catastrophic incident for the three assigned firefighters. While en route with lights and siren to the aforementioned fire, and more specifically once exited from the Arlington Expressway and onto the parallel running service road, the engine and crew were suddenly thrust into a parlous swerving motion, with said unstable environment quickly leading to the massive vehicle flipping onto its side and skidding along the road before coming to a halt some 100-odd yards from the point of initial impact: in the process destroying a service pole and knocking out power for over 700 JEA customers. Thankfully the three crew members onboard were reported to be in stable condition upon initial evaluation by the on-rushing paramedics, with an immediate transport to UF Health quickly initiated, and no other injuries or even collateral damage was reported from the scene. Unfortunately the relatively new engine, with a price point approximating $500,000, did sustain a significant amount of destruction and may even be, ultimately, classified as a total loss. As an aside it should be noted that the structure fire in Morgana Court turned out to be a vacant, unoccupied single story building where the on scene responders reported the fire under control within 15 minutes following the arrival of the first apparatus.
The manpower intensive nature of the firefighter vocation became, yet again, the most prominent and salient element during a Second Alarm response just before 5:30 AM on 18 February at the Metro Inn and Suites located at 1055 Golfair Boulevard. The large, capacious 'L'-shaped two-story structure, featuring a multitude of occupied units, was in dire need of evacuation measures due to a ground floor fire in one occupied room: a fire that resulted in vast amounts of opaque, aphotic and inky-dark smoke quickly filling up hallways, stairwells and individual rooms. With the sound of the smoke alarm ringing in their ears, accompanied by the flashing strobe light of the alarm system delivering an eerie and cinematic visual partially illuminating segments in a rhythmic, staccato fashion throughout the entire structure, the firefighters swiftly went door to door to rouse any occupants from their slumber who might still be oblivious of the parlous situation. All but one responded to the imperative to exit the building, with the aforementioned occupant physically extricated from the second floor room by firefighters and through the corresponding use of an attic ladder. The fire itself, confined to the area of origin, was extinguished in a very short time yet would necessitate the summoning of the State Fire Marshal to perform the investigation. In all, some sixty-odd individuals were initially displaced and provided with shelter from the early morning chill by JTA buses assembled on scene. The Red Cross was also dispatched to the scene and, working in tandem with the complex's management team, soon had those in need of accommodations connected with either a vacant, non-impacted and thus inhabitable unit within the north wing of the compound or, as would traditionally be the case, providing those in need with a voucher for a hotel stay.