The cataclysmic events following in the wake of Hurricane Katrina are all too well documented. Throughout the Gulf region, devastation of untold magnitude has been quite evident and requires no further explanation from this website. Suffice to say, within merely hours after the initial thrust of the storm, the Jacksonville Fire/Rescue Department was ready to send in her Urban Search and Rescue Team, just to mention one component of the department's large response contingent, and found itself with over 100 public safety professionals parked along the border awaiting the go-ahead to enter into the hardest hit areas of southern Mississippi. Considering that the Jacksonville USAR team is by far the largest of its kind within this response region (as the state of Louisiana receives support from a different region, such as Texas), the need for our city's Fire/Rescue Department to 'come through' was more than just an imperative. The incredible tales brought back from that region are too lengthy and numerous to reprint, however we are all glad to have our crews back, safe and sound, here in our beloved city 'where Florida begins.'
September 11 marks the official beginning of the National Football League season, including, of course, our city's Jaguars. A date that carries additional significance as well, as most individuals SURELY do remember that this year will represent the 4th memorial year in remembrance of the horrors of 9/11. This year, the Department has elected to honor the memory of those brothers and sisters from New York by participating in an elaborate ceremony at Alltel Stadium. Be sure to join us that day.
Tuesday, September 13th, will witness our third groundbreaking ceremony in almost as many weeks, as we 'turn the dirt' for new Fire Station #21 on Powers Avenue. Slightly different construction here than for previous stations, as 21 is the home of one our HAZMAT units and requires appropriate housing.
In keeping with the spirit of groundbreaking ceremonies, it only stands to reason that sooner or later these activities will transform into 'ribbon' cutting ceremonies. Such is the case on Tuesday, September 27th at 4 PM when the Department officially welcomes Fire Station #57 into the fold with a Dedication at the new station's location, 11785 Beaver Street.
Wednesday, the 21st of September, served as a witness for an extremely busy and taxing day for many of our units throughout the Department. Around noon, the Department was called out onto the scene at Roosevelt and 120th for a report, initially, of a brush fire. As Brush and Telesquad 52 rolled onto the scene, heavy columns of black smoke could indeed be observed just cascading along and over the treeline of a heavily wooded lot. Upon closer inspection and actually arriving at the scene, JFRD units observed several units from the Naval Air Station nearby fighting what appeared to be a woods fire. It was at this time that the Dispatchers in FRCC received word from the Tower at NAS that a military aircraft had crashed, with two souls on-board, in the vicinity of the reported brush fire. Joining together with the units from NAS, the fire was quickly brought under control but any assistance for the two crew members of the aircraft was too late, with both pronounced dead at the scene. The investigation by the Navy is currently still underway. Later that afternoon, shortly after 4 PM, units were dispatched to a fire at a restaurant located at Atlantic and Southside. Although flames were seen bursting through the roof and heavy smoke encapsulated a significant portion of the structure, firefighters were able to bring the blaze under control in well under half-an-hour. The culprit for this fire was soon identified as the hood above the grill inside the restaurant with damage estimates approaching 30,000. No injuries, neither to patrons, restaurant staff or firefighters were reported at the scene.