Close Calls: Firefighters Burned In Mega-Mansion Fire

This is the conclusion of a two-part report on operations at a March 19, 2011, house fire in Huntingtown, MD, at which 10 firefighters were injured, including four who received significant burns. Fire and rescue personnel from the Huntingtown Volunteer...


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In so many areas of the U.S. and Canada, fire departments now run a lot more mutual aid as well as automatic mutual aid. In that case, common policies and procedures are essential to increase the chances of success on the fireground. This fire demonstrated the need for all companies and departments to have common policies and procedures that are trained on and enforced with mutual agreement.

 

Conclusion

The potential of this fire to have lost some firefighters is very real. What is also real is that homes like this, large lightweight wood-truss “mega-mansions,” barely held together with glue and gusset plates exist in so many areas where there is no municipal water. Fire departments that protect areas like this have just a few options:

1. To not allow the building (by ordinance) to be built without an applicable municipal water supply.

2. To not allow buildings to be build without requiring stand-alone, self-sufficient residential sprinkler systems (that use a water tank stored on the property)

3. To get ahead of the building and plan well ahead exactly how much water may be needed (worst-case scenario) and develop a rural water supply response plan that puts that water on the road as a part of the initial dispatch of the fire. If the fire turns out to be minor, simply send the additional companies home. However, you have a working fire, you will be glad to know that water is on the way in a planned and organized manner. n

 

Readers of this column are encouraged to view the entire report along with more photos, graphs and charts, which can be found at www.hvfd6.org.