Eighty-four firefighters from 13 departments in three counties responded to a four-alarm fire that destroyed a warehouse under renovation in downtown Wenatchee, WA, on Saturday, June 20, 2009. Workers in another building reported hearing an explosion and saw flames and heavy smoke on the roof of...
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- Apparatus — When the third-alarm aerial was out of service, a request to find another aerial should have gone out immediately. There was also a delay of refueling on-site apparatus when the primary refueling company failed to respond on a weekend. An alternative company was finally identified and dispatched, but one of the aerials had run out of diesel. Early requests and contingency plans for apparatus issues would help avoid these delays.
- Firefighter safety — There were many firefighter safety challenges during this major warehouse fire with the hazards of heavy smoke, extreme heat and building collapse. The positioning of apparatus and personnel were critical. Full personal protective equipment (PPE), clear objectives, responsible supervision, firefighter accountability, functional tactical communications at all levels (radio, visual and face to face), and timely and appropriate rehab of personnel were all important components of safe fireground operations. There were no injuries and hazards and exposures were addressed and handled effectively.
- Incident command — The ICS has been thoroughly adopted and embraced in recent years within the department and with the two closest mutual aid departments, Chelan County Fire District 1 and Douglas County Fire District 2. Outside training has been brought in over the past three years and the lessons learned were put to good use as the command, communications and organization worked exceeding well to maximize and coordinate efforts on this fire.