Pre-Fire Plan Pays Off At Furniture Store Blaze
An aggressive attack, a pre-fire plan and fire walls on both sides of the building prevented a large loss at a furniture store fire in the old down town section of Titusville, Fla.
The furniture store was a two-story, masonry and wood building with a glass front. Constructed in 1914, the building was divided by a fire wall that had two openings on the first floor and one double-door opening on the second floor. The doorways were made during remodeling of the building. There were two other 18-inch shell concrete fire walls, one on each side of the furniture store, separating it from other old stores on each side that became the prime exposure problem.
Because the doors were made of wood and glass, the fire breached the fire wall on the first floor. The unsprinklered building was ideal for fire spread by convection because there was an 8X8-foot open elevator shaft in the northeast corner of the furniture store to the secondfloor storage area.
An elderly woman who lived two blocks east of the furniture store reported the blaze to fire department communications at 10:57 p.m. last March 23.
More companies called
On the first alarm, Engine 7, with a driver and Battalion Chief Donald Bishop, and Rescue 10, a minipumper responded from Station 1, only 1½ blocks away. Engine 5, with a three-man crew, responded from Station 2 nearly 2 miles away.
Upon arrival at the fire, Bishop ordered a callback of off-duty personnel, the response of Engines 4 and 6 from Station 3, and notification of Chief Richard C. Cherry that he was needed. Cherry established a command post at his car and requested an 85-foot elevating platform from the NASA Kennedy Space Center and mutual aid from District 1 Fire Control of nearby Mims.
First-in Engine 7 went into an inline pumping operation by stretching 150-foot parallel 2½-inch feeder lines from a hydrant at Washington Ave. and Main St. to the curb opposite the fire building. A 200-foot, 1¾-inch preconnect was used to protect the stores on each side of the fire building to the front.
Engine 5 took a hydrant in the rear of the fire at Main St. and pumped two 2½-inch lines to a deluge set that put a stream into the rear of the second floor. This engine also fed a 1¾-inch line taken to a rear stairway to protect the exposed store north of the furniture store.
The fire quickly outran the efforts of the first-alarm companies. The second floor and roof began collapsing before effective exterior streams could be put into operation.
Engine 6 hooked up to a hydrant on Washington Ave. opposite the fire and supplied two 150-foot, 2½-inch lines to a deluge set that put a stream into the second floor.
Elevated stream used
The NASA elevating platform took a position in front of the fire to operate a turret gun and it was supplied by 350-foot parallel 2½-inch lines stretched by Mims Engine 124 to a hydrant on Hopkins Ave. The crew of Engine 124 then assisted Titusville fire fighters. Mims Engines 114 and 123 covered Titusville Stations 1 and 3.
Although every effort was made to extinguish the fire, it was obvious at the outset that the north part of the furniture store could not be saved.
The strategy was to keep the exterior walls standing by cooling them and to keep hand line streams into the second-floor windows on the south side of the building. This kept convection heat moving mostly upward and out of the building, and the streams also kept the fire from moving through the fire wall opening into the south half of the second floor.
The fire was placed under control at 1:30 p.m. It was estimated that about 1.5 million gallons of water were used to extinguish the fire.
The first units were released from the fireground about 4 a.m. They were the Mims companies, the NASA elevating platform and Engines 4 and 6. The remaining companies completed the overhaul and stayed at the scene until 7 a.m.
The cause of the fire was still undetermined at the time this article was written