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  1. #1
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    Unhappy Johnson Vermont Fire Station Burns

    I don't have many details but Johnson Fire Dept of Johnson, VT lost most everything this morning their station burned. I think that WCAX Channel 3 will have coverage later today. www.wcax.com


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    55 Years & Still Rolling hwoods's Avatar
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    Question

    Chief, Can you please keep us posted on this? Thanks
    Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
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    MembersZone Subscriber Heretic's Avatar
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    Unhappy

    Here's a direct link: WCAX Link

    Another:
    FH.com link

    Last:
    Local Paper

    A brief update:
    Investigators believe it was an accidental fire, but have no cause pinned down.

    Johnson FD was back in service by 8pm that night, with donated gear from surrounding departments, including mine.

    One engine was a total loss, one will could be back in service in a few weeks.

    A tanker and their rescue truck are probable losses.

    The REO will need work, but should be able to be cleaned up.

    An old horse drawn wagon from 1912 (13?) was saved the same way the REO was, through a hole cut in the back wall.

    I was stuck on water supply (1500' lay to water), so I missed the inital attack, but was there for the overhaul operations.

    I'll try to answer any questions, if any have any. If I can lay hands on the digital, I'll grab pics.

    Here's one from the local paper:
    http://www.lamoillepaintball.com/images/jfd.jpg

    -H
    Last edited by Heretic; 02-09-2004 at 11:25 PM.

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    Bah! Double post, sorry!

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    Forum Member Bones42's Avatar
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    Just curious. Did they have sprinklers or any type of alarm system?
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    With the help of surrounding depts, they're getting back on their feet. A lot of equipment has been loaned or donated so they can begin taking calls again.

    Latest
    TW
    Essex Junction Fire Dept.
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    I have the same question as Bones.

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    I don't think there was any type of commercial sprinkler system, or alarm system (it was an older building that was renovated).

    The fire was apparently called in by someone driving by, and seeing flames.

    I know our department is having a debrief on Thursday. Our first engine in made the initial attack, but was pulled out when something inside the station exploded (later a SCBA bottle was found "butterflyed" open, may have been that), and no solid water supply established yet.

    -H

  9. #9
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    Originally posted by Heretic
    I don't think there was any type of commercial sprinkler system, or alarm system (it was an older building that was renovated).

    The fire was apparently called in by someone driving by, and seeing flames.

    I know our department is having a debrief on Thursday. Our first engine in made the initial attack, but was pulled out when something inside the station exploded (later a SCBA bottle was found "butterflyed" open, may have been that), and no solid water supply established yet.

    -H
    If this is true, this goes back to another thread where we discussed critical infrastructure protection. A firehouse has potentially millions of dollars of taxpayer funded assets and resources inside it. But way too many FD's have absolutely zero protection in their stations.

    You guys want to yap about the FD being the backbone of the domestic preparedness system, yet very few of you will actually step up and support the idea that the firehouse is a critical infrastructure site and needs to be a hardened target. How many of your firehouses have even the most basic protection? It doesn't matter whether it is a car bomb or a shorted out electrical cord. We need to better protect our assets.

    This town in VT is now without the fire protection equipment that their residents paid for. Yeah, it's a heartwarming public interest story how all these other FD's came to the rescue, but the fact remains TOTAL LOSS FIREHOUSE FIRES DO NOT HAVE TO HAPPEN! WE ARE SMARTER THAN THAT! WE KNOW HOW TO MAKE THEM NOT HAPPEN!

    We are telling people how important it is to have smoke detectors in their homes, yet we do not care enough to protect our first line of defense against all types of disasters.

    I know, I know, "We can't afford it", "We're only volunteer", "It's somebody else's job". I've heard them all. Well, forgive me for having no sympathy.

  10. #10
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    Yesterday when I read the post by GeorgeWendtCFI regarding his views on the unfortunate fire that occured at the Johnson Fire Department this past Sunday, my first reaction was to post a reply. However I was not going to let my emotions get the better of me and decided to see if a day or two would make me calmer. Today I read it again, I am just as upset at his attitude however my emotions are considerably calmer.

    First George you have to understand that this IS NOT New Jersey this IS Vermont and to fully understand the politics of the towns that support the fire services in this state one needs to live here a very long time.

    I know of no "official" survey, but I am willing to bet that most firehouses in Vermont are not sprinkled for probably the very same reason that there were some apparent water supply problems at Sunday's blaze. There are very few municipal water systems and many of the municipal systems that are in place throughout the state leave alot to be desired. This is only my opinion as I am not personally familar with the water system that is available in Johnson. The overall lack of dependable municipal water systems however is a fact of life in a primarily rural state.

    The volunteer fire departments of Vermont are staffed the same as elsewhere in the country - shrinking numbers of dedicated hard working men and women. We all know the story of getting called out at all times or the day or night in all kinds of weather conditions to go to the aid of our fellow man in their time of need. In many cases they are often working with too little manpower and too little or inferior equipment which brings into play the local politics in the state.

    The local towns, villages, and cities are governed by boards that are made up of various individuals from varied backgrounds who are elected and get little or no pay. Many of these individuals do not have a clue about fire equipment or fire fighting or really could care less about whether the fire station roof leaks, furnace works or let alone the fact that there may or may not have a sprinkler. In fact one of our former elected board members said in an public meeting that all a fire department needs is a pick up truck with a fire extinguisher!

    Fortunately this attitude appears to be on the decline as more departments in the state are gaining voter approval and updating their apparatus and stations, however the process can be painfully slow.

    Chief Dog's and I department enjoys a station that was constructed and occupied in 1979. Our station, which has a fire alarm and sprinkler system, is extremely overcrowded but compared to many stations in the state could be considered a "palace". We have been very forunate in gaining support for equipment purchases over the years from the taxpayers. Keep in mind however that it has been at times "hard won" support but nonetheless we prevailed.

    Also George, before you are too critical of the fire stations in this state, take a look around. I have been several firehouses of large city career departments in other states and guess what? No alarms and no sprinklers. Which brings the question when the staff of the station are out on a run, who is protecting the station?

    And finally to the readers of this post who are members of the Johnson Fire Dept.. You are suffering through what seems to be and probably is, the worst of times for your department. Do not despair, for out of this adverse situation has already come much good I am sure and you will be by far a stronger department for it. Yours is not the first department in Vermont to suffer a loss by fire and unfortunately, more than likely, will not be the last.
    On October 30, 1975, our department was placed in the exact same situation as you are now facing. The rebuilding process was long and tedious, but the dedication of the members never faltered as I am sure yours is not now. Best of luck.
    Brian K. Savage
    Fire Commissioner
    Swanton, VT

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    First George you have to understand that this IS NOT New Jersey this IS Vermont and to fully understand the politics of the towns that support the fire services in this state one needs to live here a very long time.
    No I don't. The politics are just exactly what I said. The FD is the primary first responder to any energency situation involving fire, hazmat, disaster. That is the politics whether you are in NJ, VT, HI, AK or whatever other two letters there are.
    I know of no "official" survey, but I am willing to bet that most firehouses in Vermont are not sprinkled for probably the very same reason that there were some apparent water supply problems at Sunday's blaze. There are very few municipal water systems and many of the municipal systems that are in place throughout the state leave alot to be desired. This is only my opinion as I am not personally familar with the water system that is available in Johnson. The overall lack of dependable municipal water systems however is a fact of life in a primarily rural state.
    I read my post several times. The word "sprinkler" never appeared in my post.
    The volunteer fire departments of Vermont are staffed the same as elsewhere in the country - shrinking numbers of dedicated hard working men and women. We all know the story of getting called out at all times or the day or night in all kinds of weather conditions to go to the aid of our fellow man in their time of need. In many cases they are often working with too little manpower and too little or inferior equipment which brings into play the local politics in the state.
    This is an outstanding demonstration of why a basic fire alarm system or fire suppression system should be in place at every fire station.
    The local towns, villages, and cities are governed by boards that are made up of various individuals from varied backgrounds who are elected and get little or no pay. Many of these individuals do not have a clue about fire equipment or fire fighting or really could care less about whether the fire station roof leaks, furnace works or let alone the fact that there may or may not have a sprinkler. In fact one of our former elected board members said in an public meeting that all a fire department needs is a pick up truck with a fire extinguisher!
    If your governing body has this attitude, it is your own fault...EDUCATE THEM!
    Also George, before you are too critical of the fire stations in this state, take a look around. I have been several firehouses of large city career departments in other states and guess what? No alarms and no sprinklers. Which brings the question when the staff of the station are out on a run, who is protecting the station?
    Where in my post did you see me single out VT FD's? OR vol. FD's for that matter. I agree with you 100%. This is a service wide problem. It happens in the largest city as much as it happens in small town USA.

    But you have managed to miss the entire point of the post.

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    MembersZone Subscriber Heretic's Avatar
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    I just wanted to touch on a couple things that BigBoss posted.

    Our department is an old station. We have no alarm, no sprinkler system. We DO have a municipal water system into the building, however. Our taxpayers shoot down every station upgrade we have tried.

    Our utility truck (currently on loan to Johnson FD) has to be parked outside, year round. They said no last year to a station expansion. Come spring, we will slide the brush skid into the truck, and it will spend time loaded up with brush gear outside.

    Towns are verrry tight with cash here in Lamoille County.

    -H

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    Originally posted by Heretic
    I just wanted to touch on a couple things that BigBoss posted.

    Our department is an old station. We have no alarm, no sprinkler system. We DO have a municipal water system into the building, however. Our taxpayers shoot down every station upgrade we have tried.

    Our utility truck (currently on loan to Johnson FD) has to be parked outside, year round. They said no last year to a station expansion. Come spring, we will slide the brush skid into the truck, and it will spend time loaded up with brush gear outside.

    Towns are verrry tight with cash here in Lamoille County.

    -H
    Every station upgrade? Have they ever shot down a specific request for a basic fire alarm system? Have you ever gone directly to the taxpayers and explained, with solid facts, what your situation is and why you need to park a valuable piece of apparatus inside? Or why you need to protect the valuable assets that their tax dollars have purchased? Or how it is a threat to their safety to have their first line fire apparatus unsecured?

    Every station upgrade?

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    55 Years & Still Rolling hwoods's Avatar
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    Smile From Another Direction..............

    I would respectfully suggest that the Fire protection problem in Smalltown VT. is not as serious as the Communications problem. I am extremely glad to see that the person who remarked that all we need is a pickup with an extingusher is now a FORMER elected official. My question is, why do the men and women of the Fire Service in VT. (or anywhere else) put up with such baloney. You can have anything you want, you just have to sell your project over everyone else's project. I agree that money is tight everywhere. My department is in the first year of a five year apparatus upgrade program that has a price tag of $650,000.00 attached. Every penny will have to be raised by our department, and I have no doubt whatsoever that we will very successfull. Why?? Because we go out into the community and tell our story to everyone, over and over again. We put pressure on and keep it on, and think outside the box to do a lot of things. One instance: I go to every zoning hearing for any project proposed for our area, I sign up and testify in opposition to the proposal. My message is that we need new apparatus and we cannot protect any additional buildings until we get it. Controversial? Yep. Does it work? I got a letter of comittment today from a builder of new homes, pledging an annual contribution to our apparatus fund for the next 2 years, and probably for 5. Going to the town meeting to ask for tax money is just not on our radar screen, we would much prefer to get it privately. (we have no town anyway, the County is the local government here) You CAN have what you want, you just have to go after it. A bit of info about sprinklers, they will work just fine WITHOUT a hookup to a municipal water system, just plan it properly. Storage Tank, Pump, and a supply to fill the tank to start, and then "top off" from time to time, as needed. Smoke detectors can be wired up to set off your siren when they are activated. Simple and Cheap. Think about it (outside the box, of course). stay Safe....
    Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
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    Asst. Chief John R. Woods Sr. 1937 - 2006

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    www.gdvfd18.com

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    Forum Member Bones42's Avatar
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    Simple, basic, smoke detection system - less than $2000
    New firehouse, trucks, equipment, etc. - more than $100,000.
    Notification that there is problem at the firehouse before it's fully involved - priceless.

    Does anyone tell the residents of their community it's Ok to not have smoke detectors? Why do we continue to do this in our own firehouses?

    Sorry folks, there are too many options available with alarm systems that something can/would work.


    Bigboss, how about a system in the building that is dry and the first engine in can hook up and pressurize it? Fills the building with activated sprinklers and no one had to make entry until the fire is knocked down? Pretty simple, couple hundred feet of pipe and some fittings. Couple hundred gallons of water into it and boom, very little fire left. Don't blame water supplies, get creative in thinking. Protect yourself, your guys, and your equipment.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    MembersZone Subscriber Heretic's Avatar
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    Just read in a local paper that the building was sprinklered. This is why the REO antique was pulled out relaitivly intact, according to the News & Citizen, a Lamoille county wide paper. Why it only was able to protect this one vehicle is anyone's guess.

    As far as this:

    GeorgeWendtCFI wrote:
    Every station upgrade?
    Yes. They're feeling is that if we can't cover it out of our building upkeep budget, we don't need it.



    -H
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    Answer the rest of my questions...

    Have they ever shot down a specific request for a basic fire alarm system? Have you ever gone directly to the taxpayers and explained, with solid facts, what your situation is and why you need to park a valuable piece of apparatus inside? Or why you need to protect the valuable assets that their tax dollars have purchased? Or how it is a threat to their safety to have their first line fire apparatus unsecured?
    BTW. If that building was fully sprinklered and it burned like it did, something is rotten in Denmark. My guess would be that it was a limited area system.

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    MembersZone Subscriber Heretic's Avatar
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    I can't answer that because I don't know. I'm not gonna pull an answer outta thin air, not knowing. Would you prefer a lie?

    However, I have attended several town meetings, and seen them shoot down similar items for other town departments.

    Hell, the elementary school where my son attends 1st grade has it's primary hydrant broken. They will not fix it until spring, stating "it's not a priority". I'm assuming (I know, I know) that beacuse there's a second hydrant within a few hundred feet that they feel they've made a perfectly ok decision. They'll be asked about this at town meeting.

    -H
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    Would you prefer a lie?
    No, I would prefer you didn't make statements like "Every station upgrade" if the scenario had never been presented to the taxpayers. I realize the "poor us" approach garners sympathy, but direct action garners results.
    Hell, the elementary school where my son attends 1st grade has it's primary hydrant broken. They will not fix it until spring, stating "it's not a priority". I'm assuming (I know, I know) that beacuse there's a second hydrant within a few hundred feet that they feel they've made a perfectly ok decision. They'll be asked about this at town meeting.
    This is not a taxpayer problem either. This sounds like a unilateral school board decision. Perhaps if you took this issue directly to the taxpayers with a fact-based newspaper article, they would have the common sense to demand that it be fixed now.

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    The elementary school wont fix some thing as basic
    as a hydrant? No telling what other problems are
    hidding inside. If my child went to that school, and
    a repair was not underway within 24 hrs, I would personally
    remove my child under the eye of all the local and state media.
    Ive had my share of head buttin with our local school
    over inspections. And after I made them realize that they were
    putting $ over a childs life, and I would be more than happy
    to make my case public, they saw the light. Also I try to meet
    them more than half way and find a way to solve the problem
    that is as inexpensive as possible.
    One of our jobs as a fireman is to be a voice for the kids
    that are too small to have one of their own.

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