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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The municipal hydrants in the immediate area could not supply the volume necessary for firefighting operations. Badger decided that to supply the needed water, a large-scale tanker shuttle would be required. Fifteen additional fire departments from four counties were requested to send tankers to the scene. Some of the departments were up to 30 miles away.
Tankers responding from Mercer County included Jefferson Township Tanker 88, Fredonia Tanker 97, Clark Tanker 99, West Middlesex Tanker 74, Transfer Tanker 74, Sheakleyville Tanker 75, Sandy Lake Tanker 84, Hermitage Tanker 93 and Hempfield Township Tanker 94. Butler County departments included Slippery Rock Tanker 33, Harrisville Tanker 34 and Unionville Tanker 14. Lawrence County units included Scott Township Tanker 1500 and Volant Tanker 600. Clintonville Tanker 3 responded from Venango County.
A tanker fill site was established at a hydrant at the corner of South Broad Street and College Avenue, manned by firefighters from Mercer East End. The tanker dump site was established at the corner of North Madison and Oakland Avenue, two blocks from the fire scene. Two portable tanks were set up and Springfield Township Engine 77 established draft. Engine 77 pumped dual 400-foot, five-inch supply lines to Pine Engine 85, which pumped dual 400-foot, five-inch supply lines to Engine 95 and Aerial 95. Water-supply operations were assigned to Springfield Chief Steve Rea and Mercer East End Ex-Chief Bill Findley.
Grove City firefighters operated two 2½-inch attack lines, three 1¾-inch attack lines, one portable monitor and the aerial master stream for three hours. Harrisville units laid a 400-foot, four-inch supply line from Opre Avenue to the B/C side of the building. Two 2½-inch attack lines were put into operation. Sandy Lake units established a four-inch supply line from Princeton Street to the C/D side of the building. This line was wyed to two 2½-inch lines and one of the 2½-inch lines was wyed to a 1¾-inch attack line. Firefighters from incoming mutual aid units assisted in manning these lines.
Badger declared the fire under control at 4:46 P.M. Mutual aid units were released and the last Grove City units left the scene at 9:27 P.M.
Approximately 100 firefighters operated nine engines, one aerial and 15 tankers at the scene. Firefighters used 1,500 feet of five-inch supply line, 2,000 feet of four-inch supply line, 1,000 feet of 2½-inch attack line and 1,000 feet of 1¾-inch attack line. Two hundred fifty thousand gallons of water was used to extinguish the fire. There were no civilian or firefighter injuries.
Damage to the building was so extensive the fire department could not determine the cause of the fire. The building was turned over to the owners and the insurance company took over the investigation. Damage was estimated at $6 million.
• Problems – Firefighters experienced water-supply problems from the start. The facility was located at the end of a dead-end street in a residential neighborhood. The hydrant in front of the building was on a six-inch water main, not capable of supplying the flow needed for this fire. The fire department has purchased a used tanker, conducted training on tanker operations and improved building pre-plans. Apparatus movement was also hindered by the dead-end residential street.
• Successes – During suppression operations, firefighters salvaged dies needed for manufacturing operations. Historic items and documents were also salvaged.
JAY K. BRADISH/IFPA, Firehouse® news editor, is a former captain in the Bradford Township, PA, Fire Department. He has been a volunteer firefighter and fire photographer for more than 25 years.