The first few weeks in August saw the city subjected to severe thunderstorms virtually each and every afternoon, many accompanied by multiple lightning strikes that, in some cases, resulted in apartment and house fires. Luckily the impact remained relatively minimal in each case, as property damage without loss of life was recorded in each instance. These events did serve notice, however, that education within the area of thunderstorm and lightning activity is still an important objective for all citizens to observe. Generally, lightning does precede rain with thunder serving as a warning - this is the time to get inside. Many people do not suspend outdoor activity until such time as rain is actually falling, forgetting that accompanying lightning strikes can and do take place well before the event of precipitation. Although NFPA 780 is the standard for lightning protection, it too is essentially in agreement with the general concept found in Melville's famous tome entitled 'Lightning Rod Man:' do not allow for an exploitation of fear and paranoia as there simply is no guaranteed mechanism or form of protection against lightning strikes. It remains an arbitrary and capricious event of Mother Nature, with the best advice simply being 'use common sense.' Even sophisticated Air Terminals and Charge Transfer Systems (CTS) have not held up to the scrutiny of exhaustive testing. If anything, installation of such devices and similar rods and wires should be adjacent to the structure in need of protection in high trees or specially constructed poles. This indirect form of protection appears to be the best method, if such a thing were to exist, but is costly and represents a significant cost-benefit ratio analysis that needs to be thoroughly examined before any action is undertaken. Everyone should remember that lightning strikes earth over 100 times each and every second of the day, with 25 million ground strikes each year in the United States alone: it is therefore quite possible that lightning will continue to ignore every conceivable defense mechanism man can create.
The department responded to the report of an Auto Shop fire at 3386 Philips Highway during the sweltering afternoon temperatures of August 8. Almost immediately upon arrival, and upon spotting the heavy and thick black clouds of smoke fueled by highly combustible products located in the shop, Command issued a Second Alarm that led to nearly 50 firefighters summoned to the scene. Although the fire was brought under control quickly in under 15 minutes, with the case considered accidental and resulting from repair work being performed on a car that suddenly erupted into flames, the need for the massive response was quite obvious once the Rehab Section had been established: numerous firefighters, exhausted and soaking wet from profusive sweating, all relieved to have a shady place available, complete with water and wet towels. The additional manpower an absolute necessity in weather condiitons that could only be described as 'hellish.' One civilian did require transport to an area hospital for treatment of minor injuries.
Wednesday, August 15, will see the Department welcome a new Fire Station to the city's inventory, as Fire Station #59 receives a much welcomed ground breaking ceremony at 11:30 AM. Located at William Davis Parkway, the facility will provide much needed relief to those companies already serving the rapidly growing south-eastern section of Duval County, including the retirement community known as Cypress Village.