Photos: Suffolk (VA) Firefighters Respond to Recycling Fire, Confined Space Rescue

Suffolk (VA) firefighters respond to a fire at a recycling center.

Releases via Christopher Kyle Hehl

The Suffolk (VA) Department of Fire and Rescue forwarded information on a few larger-scale responses the department faced late in 2016.

Suffolk Recycling Fire, C Shift

Thursday, December 29, 2016

The rainy, drowsy morning quickened when firefighters were called to a working fire at a local recycling plant. Suffolk Fire & Rescue units were initially dispatched for woods on fire next to a commercial structure. A tremendous plume of smoke was witnessed by all responding companies from several miles away. A full structural response was started.

Engine Company 3 was the first-due pumper on scene with a large pile of approximately 25 scrap cars fully involved. A defensive strategy was declared as all building exposures were at a safe distance and because of the unstable condition of the stacked vehicles. Ladder Company 3 arrived and placed an elevated master stream in service off the 105-foot stick. The closest hydrant was approximately 1,300 feet from the scene. Engine 1 and Engine 2 set up a relay pumping operation to supply the fire attack efforts. The flow meter on Ladder 3 showed some 60,000 gallons of water being applied to complete extinguishment and overhaul. Battalion Chief 1 held the command for the majority of the incident. There were no injuries to fire department personnel or civilians.

Suffolk fire crews respond to a confined space rescue incident.

Confined Space Rescue B shift

Suffolk Fire units were alerted for two men trapped in a pipe at a local landfill on the late morning hours of October 4, 2016. Based on the comments, a technical rescue response was activated by Battalion Chief 1 William Kessinger. Engine 5 arrived and was escorted back to a vertical culvert pipe located deep into the landfill site with a report of two workers trapped approximately 20 feet below grade. All companies and equipment had to be shuttled to the location of the industrial accident because of mud and the extreme distance from a paved surface. Rescue Company 1, led by Lieutenant Travis Saunders, was charged with mitigating the confined space rescue assignment.

A regional response was requested and Chesapeake Rescue 15 along with several members from Virginia Beach Fire Department’s Task Force 2 responded to assist. The confined space job was deemed a recovery as VDEM representative Ray Haring conducted atmospheric monitoring around the area in question. Hydrogen sulfide in extremely lethal parts per million were observed at the top of the pipe even while ventilation was in progress.

Members set up an advanced rope system to lower rescue personnel to the victims. Chesapeake Rescue 15 provided communication and air supply equipment. Rescuers made patient contact, and engaged in the packaging and removing two deceased workers from the IDLH atmosphere. Suffolk Rescue 1 member Todd Helmick and Chesapeake Rescue 15 member Jarod O’Doyle were tasked with the packaging and removing of both victims at the base of the culvert pipe. A hotwash was conducted with no injuries to fire department personnel.

On behalf of Suffolk Fire & Rescue, a thank you to the many jurisdictions that responded to assist in this extremely rare and dangerous incident.

Christopher Kyle Hehl is a lieutenant with Suffolk (VA) Department of Fire & Rescue.

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