On the Job - Pennsylvania: Fire Strikes Downtown Gettysburg

Gary E. Frederick reports on an apartment building fire at which firefighters faced frigid temperatures hovering around 10 degrees and dangerously close exposures.


On Saturday, Jan. 31, 2004, with the temperature hovering around 10 degrees, the Adams County, PA, Emergency Communications Center received a call at 5:43 A.M. reporting a fire in an apartment building at 114 Chambersburg St. (U.S. Route 30) just west of the square in...


To access the remainder of this piece of premium content, you must be registered with Firehouse. Already have an account? Login

Register in seconds by connecting with your preferred Social Network.

OR

Complete the registration form.

Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required

On Saturday, Jan. 31, 2004, with the temperature hovering around 10 degrees, the Adams County, PA, Emergency Communications Center received a call at 5:43 A.M. reporting a fire in an apartment building at 114 Chambersburg St. (U.S. Route 30) just west of the square in Gettysburg.

3_pa1.jpg
Photos courtesy of Darryl Wheeler/Gettysburg Times
Initial operations with fire building and fire already extended into exposure side B.

GETTYSBURG FIRE DEPARTMENT

Chief: Albert Knerr
PersonneL: 50 volunteer firefighters
Apparatus: Two engines, one truck, one quint, one medium rescue, one hose wagon, one air truck, two BLS ambulances
Population: 20,000
Area: 100 square miles

Box 1 was dispatched at 5:45, assigning Gettysburg Fire Department units Engines 1-2, 1-3, Quint 1 (a 75- foot aerial), Truck 1 (a 100-foot rear mount) and Ambulance 1A1 to the call. First arriving on the scene was Gettysburg Police Officer Brian Weikert, who immediately reported a working fire in progress and all occupants were reported out of the building.

Chief 1 Albert Knerr arrived in his vehicle and assumed command. Knerr requested a second alarm immediately. Quint 1, the first-responding fire unit, arrived on the scene at 5:51 with Deputy Chief David Blocher and six firefighters. The quint laid a five-inch hoseline from the hydrant on the northwest corner of Chambersburg and Washington Street, taking a position in front of 116 Chambersburg St., just west of the fire building, and Blocher was placed in charge of operations.

Arriving in quick order were Engine 1-2 with five personnel and which laid a five-inch line from the southwest corner of Washington and Middle Streets taking a position in the rear. Truck 1 arrived with four personnel, took a position in front of 112 Chambersburg St., just east of the fire building, and placed its aerial ladder in service. Engine 1-3 arrived and was staged at Washington and Chambersburg Streets, sending its five personnel to the scene. Ambulance 1A1 also arrived.

3_pa2.jpg
Photos courtesy of Darryl Wheeler/Gettysburg Times
Fire having extended to Exposure B, an interior attack is underway in that building as Chief 1 directs via radio.

The three-story brick apartment building, measuring 30 by 60 feet, was well involved with fire showing on the first- and second-floor front and sides. There was extension to the second floor of exposure B, a three-story brick building occupied as the Ragged Edge Coffee Shop with apartments on the second and third floors, located five feet east of the fire building. Exposure D, a 21?2-story frame pre-Civil War building occupied as a dwelling, was located one foot from the fire building. Exposure C, a three-story concrete-block apartment building called the Agape House, was located at the rear of the fire building.

Since the second-alarm companies were located some distance away from the Gettysburg Borough, initial operations for over the first 20 minutes were conducted by the first alarm. The initial attack was made utilizing the 75-foot pre-piped waterway on Quint 1 to protect side D. Handlines were established inside the west exposure dwelling, from the second floor of the east exposure, and with a 21?2-inch handline between exposures on both the east and west sides. In the rear, Engine 1-2 stretched a 21?2-inch line to the rear (south side) of the fire building and operating there as well as the east exposure. A second 21?2-inch line was taken to the roof of the block apartment building immediately to the rear of the fire building and operated from that point. At this time, the manpower from Gettysburg Fire Department was 25 to 30 personnel.

This content continues onto the next page...