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.
Complete the registration form.
On Saturday, April 13, 2013, a three-alarm fire destroyed the Liberian Water Side Market in downtown Darby. The fire required the resources of 31 fire departments from Delaware, Montgomery and Chester counties. Approximately 30
residents were evacuated from several nearby homes and apartment buildings due to smoke conditions. Firefighters remained on the scene for 47 hours.
The building was built in the early 1900s of ordinary construction. The flat roof was comprised of wood sheeting with a tar covering. The building was approximately 75 feet wide on the Alpha side, 150 feet deep on the Bravo and Delta sides and 150 feet wide on the Charlie side. The building contained smoke detectors monitored by an alarm company.
First alarm dispatched
Darby Fire Company 1 was dispatched to an automatic alarm at the Liberian Water Side Market at 842 Main St. at 6:05 A.M. Responding on the automatic alarm were Pipeline 04 and Engine 04 with eight firefighters under the command of Lieutenant Daniel Traband. Pipeline 04 arrived on scene and found heavy smoke showing from the Alpha side.
Traband advised Delaware County Fireboard to upgrade the assignment to a working fire and to dispatch the full first-alarm commercial building response. Pipeline 04 laid a 300-foot, five-inch supply line from the intersection of Main and Powell streets to the Alpha/Delta corner of the building. Traband, as Main Street Command, advised Engine 04 to drop a manifold in front of the building and reverse lay a 700-foot supply line to the hydrant at Chester Pike and Main Street. Engine 04 hooked onto the hydrant and pumped the supply line to the manifold.
The crew from Pipeline 04 had to use a metal-cutting saw to cut through the metal security rollup door on the Alpha side to gain access to the interior. Firefighters placed a 200-foot, 2½-inch attack line and a 200-foot, three-inch attack line with a monitor into operation on the Alpha side to knock down the heavy fire that was visible. Due to the heavy fire conditions, no interior attack was initiated.
Responding on the first-alarm assignment were Darby Fire Patrol 2 Quint 21, Collingdale Fire Company 1 Engine 061 and Quint 06, Collingdale Fire Company 2 Engine 42, Yeadon Fire Company Engine 16 and Ladder 16, Lansdowne Fire Company Heavy Rescue 19 as the rapid intervention team and Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital paramedics.
Collingdale Fire Engine 42 laid a supply line from a hydrant at Main Street and Ridge Avenue to the Alpha/Bravo corner of the building. This engine placed its deck gun into operation and a 2½-inch attack line was stretched to the Bravo side and placed into operation. Collingdale Quint 06 was positioned on the Alpha side and set up for aerial master stream operations. Quint 06 was supplied by Pipeline 04 and Engine 04.
Darby Fire Patrol Quint 21 laid a supply line from a hydrant at Mill and Walnut streets to the Charlie side of the building and was set up for aerial master stream operations. Yeadon Ladder 16 was positioned on the Alpha side and set up for aerial master stream operations. Ladder 16 was supplied by Engine 42.
The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority (SEPTA) was notified to suspend trolley service in the area and to de-energize the overhead catenary lines for the trolleys. The Philadelphia Electric Co. (PECO) was notified to shut down the electricity in the area.
Traband took command with Fire Chief Christopher M. Caruso as operations chief. Darby Fire Company 1 Assistant Chief James Booth III was assigned to Sector A operations and Lieutenant Steven TreDenick was assigned to Sector B operations; Darby Fire Patrol 2 Chief David Rimel and East Lansdowne Fire Company Chief Thomas Johnson were assigned to Sector C operations; Darby Fire Company 1 Lieutenant Thomas Sessa was assigned to Sector D exposure operations; and Darby Fire Company 1 Captain Christopher Epps was assigned exposure roof operations.
At 6:20 A.M., Caruso established a collapse zone on the Alpha, Bravo and Charlie sectors due to the three large billboards on the roof that were in danger of collapsing. The billboards were 20 feet wide and 12 feet tall, mounted on heavy-timber supports that ran from the Bravo side to the Delta side of the building.
Charm Cleaners, a one-story, 50-by-125-foot building, was three feet from the fire building on side Delta. Windows on side Bravo of the exposed building presented a fire extension possibility. A 1¾-inch line was placed into service in the interior of the exposure. One window failed, letting smoke fill the building. The handline was placed into operation on a fog pattern to hydraulically ventilate the building.