The month of April arrived on a somber note, as JFRD units responded to the report of a structure fire Friday afternoon, April 3, on Grover Road near Cedar Point Road. The fire, involving a mobile home, claimed the life of a 3 year old girl who was alone in the dwelling at the time of the incident. The child's mother and grandmother, who both reside in the home, had an apparent miscommunication as to who was to remain in the home with the child and, as a result, both had left the dwelling, leaving the child alone in a back bedroom. By the time a passer-by alerted Emergency Dispatchers that heavy flame and smoke were visible from the double-wide mobile home, the fire had already started to rip through the roof as the firefighters arrived on scene. The child was eventually located in the aforementioned area of the home and airlifted to Shands, but all efforts to save the child were for naught and the young girl was pronounced dead at the hospital. The cause of the fire is being investigated by the State Fire Marshal's Office and Jacksonville Sheriff's Office homicide unit.
A far more successful outcome was then recorded the following Saturday night, April 4, when a passing motorist saw a house fire in the 6000 block of Heckscher Drive and stopped to render assistance. The motorist recognized the outline of a human body through one of the bedroom windows and, without hesitation, broke the window and pulled out of the smoke filled room a 27 year old woman. Following the extinguishment of the fire by the crews at the scene, the good samaritan merely relayed the details of his actions and promptly left the scene without providing his identity, proclaiming that he 'was in a hurry.' The recollections of the woman did not shed any additional light on the situation, as she could only remember being asleep, followed by the sound of breaking glass and someone pulling her out of the room through the window. The cause and point of origin of the fire is still under investigation.
Congratulations are in order for the most recent recipients of promotions, observed during the quarterly promotional ceremony on the 5th floor of headquarters on Monday, April 6. All honorees are to be commended for a job well done, with best wishes also extended for continued success in their careers.
On Tuesday, April 7, a 30,000 gallon above ground LP tank created quite a scare for the area around Superior and Commonwealth, an area more commonly known as the city motorpool. A faulty relief valve on the tank resulted in a leak of the remaining 3,000 gallons or so of product in the tank, prompting an evacuation of the motorpool buildings and surrounding city-operated structures such as the Tire and Radio Shops, even Animal Care and Control. Although the product itself did not pose a serious threat, as windy conditions helped in disbursing the product (a product that dissipates rapidly into the atmosphere in the first place), the precautionary measures taken not only resulted in the evacuation order but also kept Superior Street blocked for many hours while the product was siphoned off by an LP Gas Company vehicle. The last remaining vapors were then subsequently burned off by the department's HAZMAT Team later in the evening.
The afternoon of April 23 saw units respond to the report of a structure fire near Beach Boulevard and Taunton Road in the vicinity of the Emerson Street overpass. The first-in, Engine 20, reported heavy smoke and flames visible from a 6,000 square foot building, home to a general contracting business and medical mobility company. After merely 6 minutes of aggressive attack, Command issued a second alarm and withdrew all interior sector activity as the fire refused to be subdued, threatening the integrity of the roof and steadily growing in size. In need of additional manpower for the demanding fire ground operations, Command eventually called for a third alarm as ladder pipes were placed into operation to create the 'surround and drown' environment that would eventually result in the fire being called under control just after 3 PM - nearly an hour after Engine 20 first engaged the emergency scenario. Luckily no injuries were reported to either firefighters or civilians at the scene.
On a far more enjoyable note, Fire Station 50 was officially welcomed into the fold of department structures on Wednesday, April 29. The station is certainly a unique fixture for many reasons, such as the incomparable beauty of the facade and the exquisite landscaping found throughout the grounds. Perhaps the most unusual element, however, is the process through which the city and the department were able to acquire this one-of-a-kind jewel of public safety. In a perfect example of public-private partnership, developers received from the city the old, two bay Fire Station 50 along with the corresponding property in exchange for a new, large 4 bay facility complete with property and performed in true turn-key style with no cost to the taxpayer. The significant upgrade of facilities will ensure that 50's corridor of first due territory will enjoy appropriate resource allocation and affiliated emergency response for years to come.