As the year draws to a close, the month of December began with an incredibly tragic and devastating loss for the large family known as the Jacksonville Fire/Rescue Department. Firefighter/Paramedic Emanuel Porter II, a legacy as both his father and his uncle serve as professional emergency responders with the Department, perished in an unfortunate handgun related incident during the early morning hours of Tuesday, December 1st. A mere 21 year old ('young') rookie assigned to Engine 1 - 'B,' Manny's infectious smile as well as his outgoing, gregarious demeanor and impeccable team spirit will be sorely missed by family, friends, and coworkers alike.
'To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.' - Saint Thomas Aquinas, 1225 - 1274
An extremely unusual sequence of emergency response was experienced by the Department on successive Sundays, specifically Sunday December 6 and Sunday December 13, as carbon monoxide poisoning led to the transport of several individuals to area hospitals. Although otherwise totally unrelated, each of these incidents served as a reminder that indoor gas heaters and other fuel burning appliances should have proper and functioning exhaust to the outdoors, and operational CO alarms are recommended in homes and structures where fuel burning appliances are present.
Monday evening, December 28th, the crew of Engine 29 was dispatched to respond to a fire alarm in the 2100 block of Dunes Way Drive East, no more than 2 blocks west from the intersection of McCormick and Monument roads. Greeted upon arrival by one of the two male occupants residing in the two story woodframe townhome, one of four comprising an entire building within the complex, the crew learned that one of the men had fallen asleep while smoking in bed, setting his pillow on fire in the process. Having placed the pillow in a bathtub and dousing the flames, the homeowner insisted that the situation was under control. The engine company saw firsthand the pillow in the bathtub and, following a thorough check of the rest of the dwelling, found nothing more awry and returned to service. Nearly six hours later, pedestrians walking along the sidewalk near the previously mentioned townhouse noticed a large orange glow from the back wooden deck and promptly called 9-1-1. As Engine 29 approached the intersection of McCormick and Monument, they immediately witnessed and reported heavy flame and smoke surrounding the townhouse, a dwelling and address that proved to be the exact same location previously visited for the 'burning pillow.' With the fire rapidly extinguished in less than 15 minutes, the assembled crews discovered to their astonishment that the fire's point of origin was the wooden deck in the back of the home, the result of the still smoldering pillow having been removed from the bathtub and flung outside onto the deck by one of the occupants. The damage to the townhouse was estimated at close to $100,000, with the other neighboring units saved by both the rapid intervention of the emergency responders and a firewall affixed directly onto the impinged home.