No sooner than the start of the month, obviously in this case Monday the 2nd of November, than the JFRD was already prominently in action with a response to an apartment fire on the westside during the late morning hours just before noon. Although the fire itself proved, as so many of them do, to be incapable of challenging the professional emergency responders assembled on scene (as the fire was brought under control in less than 15 minutes), the incident itself is noteworthy as, yet again, the culprit for the fire turned out to be 'inattentive cooking' or the infamous kitchen fire - the latter responsible for well over 60% of all residential structure fires. A poignant and timely reminder, with the holiday season quickly approaching, that all citizens should revisit their respective home fire safety 'plans' and preparations.
Thursday, 5 November, and perhaps one of the more tragic, elegiacal responses to an emergency in recent memory; an event showcasing yet again the often fugacious, transitory, and ephemeral nature of life or, as an existentialist might say, how "bad things happen to good people." The scene was the St. John's River, just a few yards off a private dock in the 4300 block of Great Oaks Lane near San Jose Boulevard. Two commercial fishermen, a teenage boy of 17 years of age and his 40-odd-year-old uncle, were fishing for mullet as they had done for years at this particular location. After setting out from Arlington in their boat just at the crack of dawn, they had reached their special honey-hole area when shortly after 7 AM disaster struck. As the young man was just about ready to heave out a 12 foot long, 24 foot diameter casting net equipped with approximately 20 pounds of lead weight, the boat shifted position and, unbeknownst to the uncle, the teenager was flung overboard along with the casting net. Not much else needs to be said, as the assembled units from the JFRD along with JSO, Florida Fish & Wildlife and the U.S. Navy soon realized that a rescue operation had quickly morphed into a body recovery objective. An ineffable, profoundly sad confluence of events for all parties involved.
Veteran's Day, November 11, and the crew of Rescue 31 - "C" is heading along I-10 near Lane Avenue just before 10:30 AM when suddenly, inexplicably and simultaneously thoroughly perplexing, an adult male wanders right onto the highway and into the path of the non-emergency status, on-rushing apparatus. The man was subsequently transported to UF Health as a trauma alert, with the subsequent investigation revealing that the individual deliberately and intentionally walked right into traffic in front of the rescue unit and the startled crew in charge of same. No motive for the act, however, could be provided by the investigative authorities.
Invariably, the imminent arrival of the holiday season also typically brings along a catastrophic event to showcase how one impacted family's festive celebrations will from now on never be the same joyous occasion. A family residing at 336 10th Street in Neptune Beach underwent such a transformative process, as a massive fire completely destroyed their home and thus rendered all future Thanksgiving celebrations as an occasion tinged with a bitter aftertaste. Units were dispatched to this referenced event and address just before 5 PM on November 23, with the "C"- Shift crew of Engine 55 first to arrive on scene and immediately proclaiming that heavy fire was showing from the back of the house: the latter a two-story, New England/Cape Cod style dwelling with an exterior covered in highly flammable wood shingles. At this starting point of the initial attack within the operational period, heavy charring was already visible on the exterior of the immediate eastern exposure, yet another two story home with the same cosmetic/structural appearance and make-up. Quickly bolstered by the arrival of additional units, including apparatus from Naval Station Mayport, the firefighters attempted an interior attack which was quickly thwarted as the crews were withdrawn with a potential roof collapse looming as a distinct possibility. Setting up an aerial pipe, the 'surround and drown' tactic was established along with a redeployment of numerous lines in order to protect exposures from the intense radiant heat. After nearly an hour the fire was called under control with no injuries reported from the scene but a heavy, heavy toll taken on the home: a total loss at well over $1 million. The State Fire Marshal was called to perform the investigation.