On The Job - Colorado: Fire at Office-Supply Factory Tests Castle Rock Crews

Matt Rettmer details a reported fire in a commercial structure in Castle Rock, CO.


On May 18, 2007, at 10:50 P.M., the Castle Rock, CO, Fire and Rescue Department was dispatched to 701 Topeka Way for a reported fire in a commercial structure. The caller identified himself as an off-duty firefighter and said he could see flames on the roof of a large office-supply factory. The...


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.

OR

Complete the registration form.

Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required

The Engine 151 crew (officer and firefighter), aided by the two-person Medic 154 crew, stretched a 200-foot 2½-inch attack line to the door on the A side of the building. Engine 151 made access to the office area of the building and reported little to no smoke. It was not until passing through the door to the work area did the crew encounter heavy smoke and moderate heat. This was reported to the incident commander, as well as describing "maze-like conditions." The Engine 151 officer navigated these conditions swiftly with the aid of a thermal imaging camera.

By this time, Engine 154 had extinguished the main body of fire and was encountering numerous spot fires in the high-rack storage. The crew noted four LPG-powered forklifts in the immediate fire area. All four LPG tanks had BLEVE'd (boiling liquid expanding vapor explosions) prior to the arrival of the fire department. These tanks proved to be the main heat source, which severely damaged the roof assembly and was the source of the numerous spot fires throughout the plant.

Medic 151 was assigned as the rapid intervention team and positioned on side A. Initially, the rapid intervention team consisted of two firefighters, but they were joined by three firefighters from Engine 161 on the second alarm. A second rapid intervention team was formed by four firefighters from Engine 36 on the second alarm and positioned on side B.

Quint 155 heard the report from Engine 151 and radioed to command that ventilation was going to begin. Numerous skylights covered the roof and this was the primary means of vertical ventilation. Quint 155 worked from the A to C side of the building venting the skylights. The Engine 151 crew was struck by some pieces of Plexiglas when the first skylight was taken directly above them. At first, the Engine 151 officer thought it was a potential collapse, but using his thermal imaging camera he saw that the Quint 155 crew was directly above and it was just the Plexiglas landing around them.

Quint 155 continued to vent the skylights and observed smoke and heat conditions worsen nearing the B/C corner. Additional spot fires were in the high-rack storage and causing the majority of the heavy smoke due to the vinyl and plastics that were burning. Also, the fire that was reported showing from the roof turned out to be a heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) unit filter that had caught fire. A water can was used to extinguish this fire and command was advised that this was the source of fire on the roof. (The Quint 155 officer also noted that the C side of the roof had no parapet wall. This was relayed to the crew and command. Quint 155 was directed to stay away from this potential hazard, as the fall would have been over 20 feet to the ground.)

Engine 153 arrived on scene and secured a water supply for Engine 151 and then proceeded to help the Engine 151 crew advance the 2½-inch line. The Engine 151 crew had to exit due to low air, and a face-to-face with the Engine 153 officer was conducted at door A. The Engine 153 crew (officer and firefighter) entered the office area, noted the steps to the second floor and proceeded up to investigate, finding light smoke, but no fire. Engine 153 returned to first floor and went up the line to find Medic 154 advancing the line. The two crews advanced about 100 feet, fighting fire as they moved forward. The Engine 153 crew became low on air and exited the building to change bottles. Engines 153 and 39 brought an addition 50 feet of dry line and a nozzle to extend the initial line. Division supervisors communicated with Engines 154 and 153 to prevent opposing hoselines and companies extinguished the main body of fire together.

Nine minutes after the initial dispatch, command requested a second alarm. This proved to be an excellent decision as it was clear that "all hands" were going to be working and additional personnel would be needed. The second alarm brought to the scene the following units from neighboring districts: Quint 76 (Parker Fire), Engines 39 and 36 (South Metro) and Engine 161 (Larkspur Fire). Castle Rock Fire Chief 151 responded on the second alarm, as did Division Chiefs 152 and 153. South Metro and Parker sent battalion chiefs with their dispatched units and were also used during the incident in Incident Command System/Incident Management System (ICS/IMS) positions. Unified command was established at the command post.