Early Sunday morning, September 8 and around 4 AM, JFRD units responded to a residential structure fire in the 1800 block of Spearing Street just off Eighth Street. The first arriving units reported flames engulfing the front porch of the single story, brick house and also observed three adult males in the small front yard of the dwelling; the aforementioned individuals soon revealed as the sole occupants. As the fire was being extinguished, the three men were assessed by the firefighters with one subsequently transported with life-threatening injuries to UF Health. With the house severely damaged and the Red Cross notified to provide assistance to the displaced denizens, the attention at the scene was squarely directed toward the investigative process that quickly revealed the suspicious nature of the fire, a discovery that resulted in the arrival of the State Fire Marshal's office at the scene.
An opportunity to re-visit and implement mutual aid with our neighbors from the Jacksonville Beach Fire Department occurred Tuesday morning, 17 September, as units from both Departments responded to a structure fire in the 800 block of Beach Boulevard, more specifically the venerable "Beach Bowl" bowling alley. With such a large and capacious building the scene of the incident, it was a foregone conclusion at the time of the very first 9-1-1 call that multiple units would be required for professional mitigation. The first arriving Beach responders quickly discovered a kitchen fire as the culprit, with three workers from the establishment injured at the scene and flames extending through ducts and partially visible from a roof-top vent. The initial crews on scene were promptly on top of the situation with the fire called under control and an exceptional stop made within 20 minutes following first contact. The sizeable structure did demand a lengthy and focused chase of potential hot spots, but that inconvenience was quickly off-set by the report of only minor injuries sustained by the three workers, with the aforementioned refusing transport. The cause of the fire remained under investigation.
Friday, the 20th day of this month, proved to be an eventful and challenging 24 hour period for many units of our Department, beginning well before sunrise at 4:30 AM with a Second Alarm structure fire on the city's westside at 103rd and the 5100 block of Harlow. Units arrived on scene and discovered that a now vacant church, the former Church of the Epiphany, was the specific structure being threatened by the early morning blaze. More specifically, flames could be seen breaching through both the north wall and the roof of a single story brick building that was separated from the main sanctuary by a breezeway. Burning halfway along the common attic of this 5,000 square foot structure, a former Sunday School component of the compound, firefighters quickly forced entry and made a remarkable stop before the flames could advance any further than the aforementioned midway point. No injuries were reported from the scene with the investigation revealing a utility room as the likely point of origin but further details pending the outcome of the State Fire Marshal's investigative activity.
Far more drama occurred later on that afternoon at approximately 3 PM when units were dispatched to Atlantic Coast Asphalt on Soutel Drive. Here, a 45 year old male was stuck up to his knees in a tank containing tar, a predicament he found himself in while cutting a pipe and failing to move about to keep the product from settling around his legs. With no immediate life-or-death threatening situation present, the assembled crews refrained from immediately implementing any extrication tactics that could have potentially damaged either the tank or the product. This decision resulted in several unsuccessful attempts of removing the victim, as everything from dry-ice to peanut oil proved ineffective in lessening the adhesive quality of the tar stubbornly clinging to the victim's legs. Finally, after nearly six hours of exhausting virtually every single option available, the choice of actually cutting the tank remained the only feasible alternative. With the trapped male now free and transported to a local hospital in good condition, the subsequent evaluation of the incident primarily showcased the determined will and dedication of the Department's emergency responders who refused to allow each setback to become anything more than simply an inconvenient obstacle along the ultimate and inevitable path to success.