By Battalion Chief Richard Brown
In the early morning hours of June 22, 2010, at 3:36 AM, a concerned neighbor who smelled smoke and heard crackling, called in a fire at 1400 NE 54TH Street, Apt #108 to the Fort Lauderdale (FL) Fire-Rescue dispatch center. A structure fire alarm response was struck, sending 3 Engines, 1 Ladder, 1 Medical Rescue, 1 Squad, 1 Medical Supervisor, and 2 Chief Officers to the scene. Engine 35 arrived in four minutes, and reported smoke and heavy fire coming from the structure. A working fire was declared and support units were added to the alarm assignment.
Engine 35 crew (Lt. Jermaine Frazier and FF Christopher Greco) forced the front door and made their way into the thick, black smoke. They searched for the seat of the fire as they advanced a 1 ¾” pre-connected hose line toward the back bedrooms of the apartment. While searching the first of two bedrooms, Engine 35 crew found an adult male passed out in bed and one large dog. Engine 35 crew quickly removed the victim with the large dog following behind while Engine 29 crew was advancing the second 1 ¾” pre-connected back up hose line. The victim was turned over to Rescue 35 for treatment of smoke inhalation and regained consciousness prior to transport to an area hospital.
Ladder 35 crew (Lt. Kenneth Thawley and FF Robert Siegel) conducted a primary search of the apartment. While searching the same bedroom they found another dog and removed it to safety then continued their search. After extinguishing the fire in the second bedroom, Engine 29 crew (Lt. Gregory Best, D/E Michael Spalding and FF Christopher Archambault) conducted a secondary search and found a third small dog that was removed to safety. All dogs were monitored, recovered well, and were left in the custody of neighbors.
The fire was quickly knocked down and contained to the room involved with no extension. The quick response, decisive action, aggressive interior operations, and adept medical treatment to the victim came together that morning to save a human life and the lives of his three pets. All of the fire crews operating on the scene completed critical tasks that made these rescues possible. This incident is a testament to the training, dedication, teamwork, and expertise of the men and women of Fort Lauderdale Fire-Rescue.