Article by Becky Robinette Wright
Photos by Debbie Sadler of Henrico County Fire Division
Henrico County (VA) Division of Fire received a call on December 21, 2006, at 1018 hours for a commercial fire at 7905 W. Broad Street in Richmond. Three engines, two aerial ladder trucks, and Battalion One responded.
Dispatch advised Engine 12 that the caller stated there were flames and smoke visible and that employees were evacuating the building. Lieutenant John Reeves requested an additional engine.
Engine 12 on arrival confirmed heavy smoke from the rear of a long commercial structure. Reeves requested a second-alarm assignment, and Engines 8 and 5, and Squad 13 were dispatched.
Heavy fire raged in the rear half of the structure. Engine 12 allowed Truck 12 to enter the parking lot, then Engine 12 laid a five-inch line from a hydrant on Broad Street. Truck 12 positioned itself on Side B to make an exterior attack with its aerial. Engine 10 was assigned to bring Truck 12 water through a side lot off Hungary Springs Road.
Truck 10 was brought into the lot of the structure fire and was positioned farther back on Side B to make an exterior attack with its aerial. Engine-12B pulled a 2½-inch attack line and was assigned with a member from Truck 10 to start an exterior attack through a rear roll-up door.
The fire was so intense that I-beams were buckling in the back of the structure.
Engine-12C was initially assigned to assist Engine-12D. Engine 8 was assigned to supply Truck 10 through a fence behind the convenience store on Hungary Springs Road. Squad 13 (a reserve water tower) and Engine 22 were assigned to Side D. Engine 10’s crew set up Engine 12’s ground monitor with three-inch hose into the front-most roll-up door until Truck 12 was able to start flowing water.
Truck 12 and Truck 10 put in their master streams at grade level in separate roll-up door openings and knocked the fire. Battalion 1 took command, and Reeves was assigned back with Engine 12.
Engine-12A and Engine-12B became a crew. Engine-12’s crew pulled a 1¾-inch hose to about mid-building and made access through a double door to provide a cut-off point for fire spread. An additional roll-up door provided access and ventilation.
A middle cross-section of the building was monitored with the thermal imaging camera (TIC) and noted no fire spread from the rear half of the building. The fire was declared under control at 1111 hours and rehab was established.
Operations were halted until the fire marshal could investigate. Engine 12 and Truck 12 remained on scene; other units were cleared.
Engine 12 and Truck 12 used a TIC and 1¾-inch hoseline to take care of any hot spots. Engine 12’s hose was repacked with the assistance of Truck 12 members, and both units cleared the scene.
- The reverse lay increased gpms; more water power meant faster knockdown for a well-engaged, difficult-to-access fire.
- Take time to ensure correct apparatus setup. The creative apparatus positioning resulted in very good fire battle moves at this incident.
- The use of aerial master streams at grade level assisted by a TIC factored into the operation’s success. The aerial ladders were placed right at bay openings, the fire was hit with master streams, and the TIC revealed the pockets of fire, allowing firefighters to combat the fire with reduced risk.
- TICs are a great asset in any fire situation. Don’t hesitate to use them.