Multiple-Alarm Fire Destroys White Township Printing Plant

More than 170 firefighters from four counties responded to a multiple-alarm fire that destroyed a printing plant in White Township, Indiana County, PA, on Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2012. The fire caused $75 million in damage and left more than 200 employees out...


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Command structure

Kelly established a command post at Philadelphia Street and Christy Park Drive, from where he could observe sides A and B of the building. Indiana Fire Association Third Assistant Chief Tom Moreau was assigned to C-side operations. Moreau reported heavy smoke and saw fire coming out of the storm drains. Command ordered that no personnel were to enter the building; this would be a defensive operation only. All personnel operating near the structure were ordered to have self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) on at all times.

Indiana Fire Association Second Assistant Chief John Compardo was assigned to the command post as the communications officer. His primary duties were the interface between command and the 911 dispatch center, incoming units and requesting additional mutual aid units and agencies needed throughout the incident. Indiana Fire Association First Assistant Chief Scott Schuller arrived as the officer on Heavy Rescue 105. He was assigned A-side operations with Captain Mike Empfield. Indiana County Emergency Management Agency officials and Citizens Ambulance Service established a firefighter rehab area at the Creps Annex. Upon arrival of Homer City, Homer City Captain Joseph Izzie was assigned as the staging officer.

Kelly made the first request for mutual aid at 8:49 A.M. for engines and mask personnel. The Homer City Volunteer Fire Department responded with Engines 182 and 183 and Rescue 181. The Clymer Volunteer Fire Company responded with Engines 154 and 155, Rescue 153 and Utilities 152, 158. The Coral/Graceton Volunteer Fire Department responded with Rescue 166, which has an onboard air compressor system for filling SCBA bottles. The Creekside Volunteer Fire Company responded with Engine 262 and Brush 263.

Also, at this time, the Pennsylvania State Police, Indiana Barracks, was advised of the fire and a request was made for the fire marshal to respond. Trooper Timothy Frew responded and remained on scene throughout the day taking photos and interviewing bystanders and employees. He also spoke with several firefighters in an attempt to determine the extent of damage inside the structure. Also, he requested the State Police helicopter from Troop Headquarters, which provided overhead photos to command as the incident continued.

 

Additional mutual aid

Additional mutual aid was requested from Indiana County for engines and mask personnel during the next hour. The Black Lick Volunteer Fire Company responded with an Engine 141, Rescue 143 and Utility 144; the Blairsville Young Mens Volunteer Fire Company with Engine 121 and Rescue 125; the Marion Center Volunteer Fire Association with Rescue and Air 195 and Engine 196; the Saltsburg Volunteer Fire Department with Rescue 131-1; and the Cherryhill Township Volunteer Fire Company with Engine 241. The Plumville Volunteer Fire Department sent Engine 352 and the Pine Township Volunteer Fire Company dispatched Engine 572; both were placed on standby at Indiana Central Station and were called to the scene in the late afternoon for fresh manpower.

Out-of-county departments were also requested. The Nanty Glo Fire Department, Station 43, from Cambria County responded with an engine to standby at Indiana Central Station, and Kittanning Township from Armstrong County responded with Ladder 310, a 105-foot aerial that was placed on standby at the scene. The Dauntless Fire Company, Station 22 of Ebensburg, from Cambria County responded with Ladder 223, a 100-foot ladder tower with a 2,000-gpm pump. The Greensburg Volunteer Fire Department from Westmoreland County sent an engine, a high-expansion foam truck and an air truck with an onboard air compressor.

 

Water supply

Kelly asked for a supervisor from the Western Pennsylvania Water Co. to respond to the command post. The supervisor directed Kelly to a hydrant on an eight-inch main 3,500 feet from the scene. Engines from Clymer, Cherryhill Township and Kittaning Township laid 3,500 feet of five-inch line. Two engines from Clymer were placed in the relay to supply Cherryhill Township Engine 241, which fed Indiana Ladder 101 with an additional five-inch line. They also made use of a manifold supply with a five-inch line that provided three additional lines on side A to the ground monitors.