December is the month for all 2008, year-ending JFRD Awards nominations to be submitted; it should be an exciting Awards Ceremony next year, filled with many memorable, courageous and just plain outstanding performances by emergency responders and civilians alike, all worthy of appropriate honor and commendation. Be sure to get your nominations in before the deadline passes!
On a very cold, relatively atypical early morning on Wednesday, 3 December, fire and rescue personnel were dispatched to a structure fire at 7612 McCowan Drive on the westside of the city, just off of Blanding Boulevard. When arriving at the scene, the crew from 52 immediately confirmed that the entire front of the single story, single family home was engulfed in flame, with heavy black smoke rising into the pre-dawn sky. The sole victim of this emergency, an adult male found naked, but for the notable exception of a blanket hastily wrapped around the shivering body by a neighbor, required immediate treatment by Rescue 52 and was transported to Shands in critical condition. Although the fire was rapidly brought under control and (thanks to the expertise of the professional responders on the fireground) no damages were reported to any of the exposures that flanked the fire ravaged home no more than 4 feet away in each direction, the ensuing investigation into causation proved to be quite tedious. With damages within the involved structure quite extensive, investigators would require some time to sift through the debris to see if the assumption of space heater involvement would and could be substantiated. A significant point of interest, however, proved to be the revelation that no working smoke detector was found anywhere in the home. Damage estimates made by investigators were in the neighborhood of $40,000 following initial assessments.
On a far more positive note: congratulations are in order for Captain Wayne Watts of our very own Fire/Rescue Training Academy, for his selection as the 2008 Florida Fire Service Instructor of the Year! The selection and honor, made by a committee of past nominees under the auspices of the Florida Fire Chief's Association, will culminate with an official presentation to the recipient during ceremonies scheduled for this year's Fire-Rescue EAST in Daytona Beach, January 29, 2009. Good going, Captain Watts!