Mutual Aid Plan Gets Test by Fire

Mutual Aid Plan Gets Test by Fire


GSA Belle Meade, N.J., Depot F.D.

Firemen prepare to advance on a condemned building set afire in New Jersey mutual aid exercise

—photo by Anthony Lo Sardo.

Doomed buildings burned in checkup on response as…

Somerset County, N.J., firemen are convinced that their new mutual aid program will be successful because they inaugurated it with a drill that included fighting fires in some old buildings.

In addition to providing a trial run for the mutual aid plan, the drill at the General Services Administration at Belle Meade, N.J., gave an opportunity for training under fire conditions and saved the GSA money in removing seven condemned buildings. The GSA Fire Department played the role of host and started the drill last July 30 by burning a small garage at 1:05 p.m. After this fire was extinguished it was assumed that sparks had ignited other buildings.

A 1310-square-foot building was lighted off and the GSA dispatcher then called the Mutual Aid Control Center at the Somerset County Park Police Department to request three fire companies: South Somerville Veterans Administration Depot, Hillsboro No. 2 and Montgomery No. 1. The VA engine set up a monitor nozzle which was used during the rest of the afternoon to cover the entire fire area. The other two companies laid in 2K-inch lines. Control of the fire was established 25 minutes after the alarm.

Two companies arrive

Then a smaller building was set afire, and the Hillsboro No. 1 and Somerville companies arrived in 7 and 10 minutes, respectively. The Hillsboro engine stretched a 2 1/2-inch line and took a hydrant. Somerville then laid two 2 1/2-inch lines to the Hillsboro pumper. In 30 minutes, the fire was under control.

A fourth building fire brought in the Manville, Finderne and Country Hills companies. Manville quickly extinguished its half of the building. But before Finderne could complete an attempt to “steam” the fire, the roof collapsed, and conventional fire fighting methods had to he used. The Country Hills firemen backed up the Manville attack by laying a 2 1/2-inch line and drafting from the depot reservoir. This fire was under control in 45 minutes.

Double lines laid

A small garage and a building once used for quarters were ignited for the final exercise. A Raritan engine laid two 600-foot, 2 1/2-inch lines and pumped from the reservoir. The Country Hills firemen assisted in holding the fire until the arrival of the Bound Brook pumper, which had a long distance to travel. Bound Brook then laid two more 2 1/2-inch lines into the Country Hills pumper and attacked the fire.

Companies released

At 4:30 p.m., all the buildings were considered safe enough to release the assisting fire companies. The GSA Fire Department set up protective and wetdown lines to complete extinguishment of the smoldering debris. At 5:10 p.m., the last of the mutual aid apparatus reported in service back at its home station.

In preparation for the exercise, all grass in the area was cut and burned. Electrical lines in the area were temporarily disconnected and five water spray curtains were set up around buildings near those to be burned. Two GSA pumpers were at the scene to provide support.

Hillsboro No. 2 invited all the firemen who had participated in the exercise to have refreshments at its station. While refreshments were being enjoyed, a critique was held by the chiefs of the mutual aid companies. They agreed that the mutual aid system had proved its efficiency and that the training had been successful.

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