Incident Report: Chattanooga plant fire

Text and photos courtesy of Bruce Garner

Quick work by Chattanooga firefighters saved a good portion of Nu Foam Products at 8:57 on Monday, October 30. A captain with the department, David Scoggins, was out visiting stations and was apparently the first to spot the fire from the outside. Captain Scoggins reported the fire on his 800 MHz radio, sending the first six fire companies to the scene at 1101 Wisdom Street. Seeing the magnitude of the fire upon arrival, the firefighters called for a second alarm response, bringing in an additional six fire companies to the scene.

Duputy Chief Randy Parker said plant workers were still trying to put the fire out with hoselines and portable fire extinguishers when the firefighters made their way inside the building. Chief Parker said the firefighters asked the plant workers to leave for their own safety. By then, the fire had broken through the roof on one of the large, warehouse-style buildings. Firefighters outside raised an aerial to get water on the roof, and other firefighters used hand-held hoselines to fight the fire from the inside.

Chief Parker said many flammable materials were involved, including the foam and alcohol-based glue, so firefighters used Class A foam to help get the fire out quicker. Many of the firefighters involved initially were not from fire stations. They were firefighters assigned to the Fire Administration Building. Since the fire was at Nu Foam across the street, they literally ran to the scene with their turnout gear, and helped extinguish the flames. They managed to get the flames under control in roughly 30 minutes. No injuries were reported.

Captain James Whitmire with the Fire Investigation Division said the cause of the fire appears to be accidental. Based on eyewitness accounts of what happened, a static spark ignited some polyurethane foam, and the fames quickly spread throughout the large machinery.

Nu Foam makes foam products for the mattress and furniture industries. A plant representative said the area of the plant involved with the employed about 50 people. No word on the dollar loss or how the fire will affect plant operations.

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