Light Smoke Showing, Then Heavy Fire & Major Collapse - Part 2

As we reported last month, on Jan. 18, 2014, the Manhasset-Lake-ville Fire Department (M-LFD) of Long Island, NY, was alerted to respond to a reported fire in a dwelling. What happened on that call provides a lesson for all of us, especially when...


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As we reported last month, on Jan. 18, 2014, the Manhasset-Lake-ville Fire Department (M-LFD) of Long Island, NY, was alerted to respond to a reported fire in a dwelling. What happened on that call provides a lesson for all of us, especially when responding to lightweight wood construction.

Our sincere thanks to M-LFD Chief of Department Christopher Pisani and Deputy Chiefs Kirk Candan, Michael Farrone, Scott Garrigan and Mark Kiess for their assistance in sharing this report. Additional thanks to Lieutenant Sean Dolan, Firefighter John McCann, Lieutenant Lee Genser, EMT Tracey Dolan, Fire Commissioners Donald T. O’Brien, Andrew J. DeMartin and Brian J. Morris as well as all the members and mutual aid departments who responded to this incident.

 

The following account is from Deputy Chief Kirk Candan:

The dispatcher toned out the call for Companies 1, 2, 3 and 6 to respond to a “reported house fire.” Chief Pisani and Deputy Chiefs Farrone, Kiess and I all responded within seconds of one another.

While enroute, the dispatcher updated us that a second call was received reporting a fire as well as the automatic alarm for the address. I was thinking about the legitimacy of this being a working fire. A few seconds after the dispatcher’s update, Chief Pisani advised us that he heard over the scanner that police units on scene were asking for us to “step it up,” so I knew we had something. Chief Pisani requested that the Port Washington Fire Department be notified for the FAST (firefighter assist and search team).

Deputy Chief Kiess arrived on scene probably a minute before I did. I pulled my truck next to his (opposite the address) and he was already throwing on his bunker gear. The owners (husband and wife) were in front of the house with the two police officers, insisting on removing their cars from the garage of their house. Deputy Chief Kiess and I did a very quick face-to-face. He mentioned that the owner said smoke was filling the basement.

I set up as the incident commander and Deputy Chief Kiess made his way inside the house. I knew I would be relieved as soon as Deputy Chief Farrone or Chief Pisani arrived, so I got dressed as well. I tried my hardest to get any sort of useful information on fire location/layout from the homeowner and made no headway. I took a quick look at hydrant locations because my first three pieces of apparatus responding were engines. I gave instructions to the first two engines of where they should position themselves. I requested a report from Deputy Chief Kiess, who was probably inside for one or two minutes. He radioed back to me with his SCBA (self-contained breathing apparatus) on and reported that he had smoke coming from the basement doorway and he was going to go downstairs to check it out. I was concerned about him entering the basement alone.

Engine 8740 arrived on scene first and took the hydrant closest to the address. I requested that the officer of Engine 8740, Lieutenant Sean Dolan, immediately enter the house to assist Deputy Chief Kiess with his search for the fire and to have his members get ready to stretch a 1¾-inch hoseline.

 

Sizing-up the structure

Deputy Chief Farrone and Chief Pisani arrived on the scene and Chief Pisani assumed the role of incident commander. The working-fire signal had still not been transmitted. I finished putting on my bunker gear. The previous day, I was having issues with my two handie-talkies’ remote microphone working intermittently, but used it anyway. I took Chief Pisani’s thermal imaging camera and made my way to the house.

On my walk-up to the front door, I tried sizing-up the structure; the house was very big (5,000 square feet). I entered the front door and took a few mental notes. There was a light smoke condition on the first floor with the smell of something burning. I think it was around this point that Lieutenant Dolan gave a report that they located a fire in the basement and they were trying to hit it with Deputy Chief Kiess’ water can. The working fire signal was transmitted around this point by Chief Pisani.

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