On The Job - New York: Lesson Reinforced in Newburgh: Know Building Construction & Hazards

Jay K. Bradish reports on the keys to firefighter safety at a suspicious three-alarm commercial fire in the City of Newburgh, NY.


Lesson Reinforced In Newburgh: Know Building Construction & Hazards Education and training in building construction and the hazards of truss construction were keys to firefighter safety at a suspicious three-alarm commercial fire in the City of Newburgh, NY. Incident commanders recognized...


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Lesson Reinforced In Newburgh: Know Building Construction & Hazards

Education and training in building construction and the hazards of truss construction were keys to firefighter safety at a suspicious three-alarm commercial fire in the City of Newburgh, NY. Incident commanders recognized hazardous conditions and withdrew interior crews before a truss collapse occurred 19 minutes into the fire.

The Nov. 15, 2006, fire destroyed the Active Ventilation Products Company, an L-shape building of ordinary and non-fire-protected steel truss construction that was built in 1924. The building was comprised of a 120-by-100-foot two-story warehouse and a 77-by-160-foot, one-story attached factory. The warehouse had a four-on-12 pitch rubber roof, while the manufacturing area had a flat rubber roof. The building was equipped with a six-inch dry sprinkler system.

The Newburgh Fire Department received Municipal Fire Alarm Box 245 at the corner of Liberty and Clinton streets at 1:12 P.M. Engines 1 and 3 and Ladder 1 responded with nine firefighters under the command of Assistant Chief Robert Bain in Car 4. Upon arrival, companies found heavy smoke pushing from the warehouse with flames visible in the upper-east-side gable windows. An employee advised units that all occupants were out of the building, but Fire Chief James Merritt and Deputy Chief Glenn Burres removed one of the company's owners who had reentered the rear of the building.

Engine 1 laid 350 feet of four-inch supply line from a hydrant on Liberty Street to the 3-4 corner of the building on Liberty Street. Engine 3 laid the same amount of four-inch line from a hydrant at the corner of Grand and Clinton streets to a position on Clinton Street. Firefighters hand-laid 100 feet of three-inch line from Engine 3 to a hydrant at the corner of Liberty and Clinton streets for a water supply. Ladder 1 was positioned on Liberty Street (side 4). The crew from Engine 1 advanced a 250-foot 2½-inch line to a door on Liberty Street and operated from this position. That engine also pumped two 50-foot three-inch lines to the building's fire department connection. It was later found that the building's sprinkler system was not in operation. The crew from Engine 3 advanced a 250-foot 2½-inch attack line to a large overhead door on Clinton Street. The engine's pre-piped Stang gun was also placed into operation into large windows along that side of the building.

Bain requested a second alarm at 1:16. Newburgh Engine 10 and Truck 10 responded with eight firefighters. Engine 10 laid 600 feet of five-inch supply line from a hydrant on Liberty Street to the intersection of Liberty and Clinton streets. Truck 10 was positioned at the 1-2 corner of the building on Clinton Street. Bain then called for mutual aid from several area fire departments. Five firefighters from the Stewart Air National Guard Base responded with Engine 371; the Cornwall Volunteer Fire Department responded with Ladder 402 and six firefighters; and the Goodwill Volunteer Fire Department from the Town of Newburgh responded with Engine 312 and a six-member crew. Responding to Newburgh Fire Headquarters for standby were Orange Lake Volunteer Fire Department Engine 327 and five firefighters and Coldenham Volunteer Fire Department Tower 205, also with a crew of five.

Merritt ordered all firefighters out of the building at 1:22. After all firefighters were accounted for, defensive operations were initiated. Engine 1 supplied two 100-foot three-inch lines to feed the fly pipe on Truck 1. As the fire conditions worsened, a 250-foot 1¾-inch handline was used to cool Engine 1 and Truck 1. Bain requested a third alarm at 1:28. Newburgh Engine 11 responded along with all off-duty Newburgh firefighters.

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