On the Job: Pennsylvania

  On Saturday, March 6, 2010, a four-alarm fire destroyed the historic Wendell August Forge in Grove City, PA. Water supply was a major problem from the beginning of the incident, as nearby hydrants could not supply the volume needed. Firefighting...


  On Saturday, March 6, 2010, a four-alarm fire destroyed the historic Wendell August Forge in Grove City, PA. Water supply was a major problem from the beginning of the incident, as nearby hydrants could not supply the volume needed. Firefighting resources from Mercer, Lawrence, Venango and...


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On Saturday, March 6, 2010, a four-alarm fire destroyed the historic Wendell August Forge in Grove City, PA. Water supply was a major problem from the beginning of the incident, as nearby hydrants could not supply the volume needed. Firefighting resources from Mercer, Lawrence, Venango and Butler counties were required to extinguish the fire.

The one-story, steel-frame and brick building was constructed in 1932. The roof consisted of the original steel roof with many layers of built-up roofing on top of it with the final roof being rubber membrane. The building was comprised of three sections – a 50-by-200-foot manufacturing facility, a 50-by-100-foot showroom and a 50-by-100-foot office area. The building was equipped with smoke detectors and the spray booth in the manufacturing area contained a fire suppression system.

The company was established in Brockway, PA, in 1923 and moved to its Grove City location in 1932. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was the only remaining company of its kind in the United States. The forge made customized pieces for Disney, Hershey, Coca-Cola, Pizza Hut and Met Life, producing products made from pewter, stainless and sterling silver, brass, aluminum and copper. The company operates other facilities in Exton, PA, and Berlin, OH.

Conditions On Arrival

The Mercer County Department of Public Safety 911 Center received a call reporting a fire at the Wendell August Forge facility at 620 Madison Ave. The Grove City Volunteer Fire Department was dispatched at 1:35 P.M. Grove City Engine 95, a 1,500-gpm pumper, Engine 95-2, a 1,250-gpm pumper, Aerial 95, a 100-foot aerial ladder with a 1,000-gpm pump, and Squad 95, an air unit, responded under the command of Fire Chief Jeff Badger.

At the time of the fire, the facility was open to the public for business and manufacturing operations were ongoing. Approximately six customers and 10 employees were in the building at the time. Second Assistant Chief Jeff Hodge arrived on the scene at 1:39 and found heavy smoke conditions. Hodge confirmed with employees that the entire building had been evacuated and that all employees and customers were accounted for.

Firefighters were met with heavy fire and smoke coming from half of the manufacturing section of the building and extending into the showroom. Engine 95 and Aerial 95 arrived on scene at 1:43. Engine 95 laid a 400-foot, five-inch supply line from a hydrant at Opre Avenue and North Madison and was positioned at the A/B corner of the building. Aerial 95 was positioned at the A/D corner of the building and set up for aerial master stream operations. This unit was fed by a 100-foot, five-inch supply line from a hydrant in front of the building.

Firefighters placed two 200-foot, 2½-inch attack lines into operation from Engine 95 along with its deck gun. A single 150-foot, 1¾-inch attack line was placed into operation from Aerial 95 along with its master stream. The hydrant in front of the building could not supply the needed flow for the aerial master stream operations, so a 300-foot, four-inch supply line was stretched to Engine 95 for additional water.

Due to the limited water supply, all firefighting operations were defensive except for some interior operations in the office area.

Hodge requested a second alarm at 1:40 P.M. Responding units included Pine Engine Company Engine 85, a 1,500-gpm pumper, and Engine 85-2, a 2,000-gpm pumper/tanker; Mercer East End Engine 87, a 1,500-gpm pumper, Tanker 87, a 2,100-gallon tanker with a 1,500-gpm pump, and Tanker 87-2, an 1,800-gallon tanker with a 1,000-gpm pump; Stoneboro Engine 76 for a rapid intervention team and Tanker 76, a 2,500-gallon tanker; a Jackson Center aerial for a rapid intervention team and a 2,500-gallon tanker; and Springfield Township Engine 77 and Tanker 77.

Water Supply

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