The new year has arrived with the typically busy activity for everyone within the field of Public Safety. Although unseasonably mild weather conditions have greatly contributed to a statistical reduction in home fires and related deaths for this general time of the year, a brief cold snap over the Christmas holidays did result in one unfortunate house fire that claimed the lives of two adults. Despite the paucity of fires, however, motor vehicle accidents with corresponding fire/rescue emergency response seemed to increase daily. A spate of early January accidents appeared to regularly include multiple victims and extrication assignments. With the added traffic of the Super Bowl merely weeks away, it would appear that the department should brace itself for a greater quantity of the aforementioned scenarios mandating fire/rescue involvement.
A special congratulations to Recruit Class 6-04 for successful completion of their respective training, culminating in Graduation Ceremonies at the Training Academy on Thursday, January 20th. Within that same general theme of congratulatory remarks, it should be noted here that the promotional ceremony for individuals moving up the career ladder will occur Wednesday, January 26 at 10 AM at the Union Hall on Stockton. Video and still photography will be made available to all participants to capture the special proceedings.
In the meantime, Super Bowl activities are certainly in full swing as the Department finalizes smaller issues in preparation for the big event. From Branch and corresponding Division design, to NIIMS issues and staffing, it appears that everything is well under control and the Department as a whole can look forward to an exciting challenge 'as the world watches!'
The weekend of January 29th and 30th saw the kickoff of the truly amazing 'NFL Experience' on the southbank; and with that, the first opportunity for the Department to test many of the preparatory measures created specifically for the week leading up to and including the 'big game' itself. Overall, the best way to summarize the performance of the Department, from the initial stages of organizing manpower and other logistics, to the implementation and actions of field personnel at the event is simply this: outstanding! Although some small glitches and minor problematic issues were discovered during the process of attending to the 'NFL Experience,' nothing presented an outright insolvable obstacle. Now, should this translate to the rest of the week's activities, then the Department as a whole can relax in the knowledge that absolutely nothing can shake this foundation of rock-solid public safety preparation and corresponding field performance.
The Department has also completed all work on the 'Electronic Press Kit,' a DVD designed to showcase the Jacksonville Fire/Rescue Department to media visitors from around the world here in attendance for the 'Big Game.' Copies were distributed to the Media Center at the Prime Osborn Convention Center and the general reviews have been extremely favorable. This is a great way to show the history of our beloved Fire/Rescue service to those unfamiliar with our department's spectacular achievements. It will probably come as quite a shock to many outsiders that both RESCUE and HAZMAT concepts as commonly practiced around the world began here, 'Where Florida Begins.'
Naturally, the typical scenarios as encountered daily by the Department continue to provide a reminder that business does continue as usual. Sunday night, specifically January 30th, saw a response to a structure fire on 800 Mayport Road, an automotive and tire shop. Apparently several tires had caught on fire creating huge amounts of thick black smoke. The fire was quickly extinguished, but not before causing approximately $30,000 worth of damage.On Monday, January 31st, it was back to basic firefighting as a gas station at 3260 Beach Boulevard became the site of a W3 structure fire. The good news was that the convenience store, not the actual fuel tanks, became compromised by flames that extended a good five feet above the roof. Apparently electrical issues of some kind may have been the culprit in starting the fire; a fire that led to a good portion of Beach Boulevard being blocked off for oncoming traffic for about an hour. So for the next several days, the Department can expect the aforementioned 'norm' to still exist while the unusual aspects of a major sporting event also demand thorough and professional attention.