I'm certain you all join me in extending our sympathies to the members of the Gordon Fire Department for the recent loss of their firehouse, apparatus and equipment. While I'm sure it was terrible to lose all of those things, it's fortunate that nobody was injured, or worse.
I've had two experiences with fire station fires during my career. While neither was a close call for me personally, it's really shocking to hear companies dispatched for a working fire in a fire department facility!
In one of those cases, part of the crew narrowly escaped out the bunk room windows as smoke banked down in the living quarters from a fire that started in the apparatus bay. The station and apparatus was heavily damaged and the crews were in temporary housing for several years while the station was rebuilt.
The second fire also occurred in an apparatus bay, starting onboard a fire department vehicle, and quickly charged the entire building with smoke. The facility is quite old and wasn't equipped with a contemporary smoke detection or suppression system. Fortunately, this incident occurred during the daylight hours; I still feel that had the fire started at night the crew would have been severely injured or killed.
It sounds like, with a great deal of community support, the Gordon Fire Department will rebuild and recover from its losses.
But still, we can't help but think about the "what if" scenario in this or similar stories.
What better time, as we approach Fire Prevention Month, to look closely at our own fire department's fire and life safety practices, procedures and systems?
About the author
With more than two decades in the field, Chief Adam K. Thiel — FireRescue1's editorial advisor — is an active fire chief in the National Capital Region and a former state fire director for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Chief Thiel's operational experience includes serving with distinction in four states as a chief officer, incident commander, company officer, hazardous materials team leader, paramedic, technical rescuer, structural/wildland firefighter and rescue diver. He also directly participated in response and recovery efforts for several major disasters including the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Tropical Storm Gaston and Hurricane Isabel.
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John HoustonMonday, September 23, 2013 7:55:26 PMIncidents like this one prove just how dangerous fire can be, and that it can happen anywhere, anytime, even at a fire hall. Thank goodness no one was hurt in this one. Buildings, trucks and equipment can be replaced. Firefighters can't.