Wednesday, 7 May at the Auditorium of the FSCJ Downtown Campus, the Jacksonville Fire/Rescue Department proudly welcomed the arrival of 38 new firefighters into the fold following the fun and exciting graduation ceremony of recruit class 2-14.
As the month of May begins to usher in warmer temperatures, the number of beach-goers and enthusiasts of recreational watersports increases every passing day. With the aforementioned activity, unfortunately, the number of emergency responses to our beach areas also begins to increase; case in point Tuesday, 13 May at Little Talbot Island, where Rescue units were summoned to during the early afternoon hours. A father and son were swimming in the ocean when a rip current swept the young boy under, with the father frantically trying to reach the child. Although eventually successful with this rescue attempt, the boy was nonetheless transported to an area hospital in critical condition. This incident served as a poignant reminder that although there may never be a "house fire season," as this type of response is represented throughout the year, certain scenarios do actually occur primarily at a very specific time within the calendar...and the time of the beach/water-sports related incident has officially arrived for the year 2014.
Early Saturday morning, 17 May and shortly after midnight, JFRD units engaged a massive Three Alarm fire at the River City Landing Apartments in Arlington, a complex located near Jacksonville University. First arriving crews discovered that a 32 unit apartment building had flames breaching through the top of the roof. The urgency surrounding the event was immediately compounded by the realization that the closest hydrant, a privately owned and maintained unit within the apartment complex, was incapable of delivering the water pressure needed to combat the sizeable blaze. Following a double-lay of some 2000 feet suppression efforts were able to begin in earnest: but with the fire initially encountering little to no resistance due to the lack of a modern firewall construct, the flames quickly advanced through the attic and the tragic demise of the building soon became a reality. After several hours of intense operations the incident was called under control, with the immediate aftermath revealing some 25 families displaced from their homes and in need of assistance from the American Red Cross. That number of people, 47 in total, represented by far the single greatest call-out for support from the aforementioned agency in recent memory. The damage estimates from the scene were in excess of $1 million, with the State Fire Marshal's Office called to perform the investigation into both provenance and cause. Two residents and one firefighter required transport to area hospitals for treatment of non-life threatening injuries sustained during the incident.