On The Job - Ohio: Machinery Malfunction Sparks $10 Million Factory Fire in Forest Park

Jay K. Bradish reports on a four-alarm fire in Forest Park, OH, that destroyed a Faxon Machining Inc. manufacturing facility.


FOREST PARK FIRE DEPARTMENT Chief: Trish Brooks Personnel: 29 career firefighters, 38 part-time firefighters Apparatus: Two engines, one aerial, three ALS units, one reserve engine, one reserve medic unit Population: 27,000 Area: 7.5 square miles A four-alarm fire in Forest Park...


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FOREST PARK FIRE DEPARTMENT
Chief: Trish Brooks
Personnel: 29 career firefighters, 38 part-time firefighters
Apparatus: Two engines, one aerial, three ALS units, one reserve engine, one reserve medic unit
Population: 27,000
Area: 7.5 square miles

A four-alarm fire in Forest Park, OH, on March 2, 2005, caused by a machinery malfunction destroyed a Faxon Machining Inc. manufacturing facility, causing $10 million in damage.

The original building was constructed in 1996, with five additions made since then. The one-story, U-shaped metal building contained 65,000 square feet of space. A flat metal-deck roof covered the original fire building. No fire protection or detection systems were present in the manufacturing area. Smoke alarms were present in the office area only. The company is in the business of precision drilling and machining of parts for industrial uses.

Firefighters were faced with several challenges during the incident: A 3,000-gallon oil pit that was flush with the floor quickly overflowed with the water from the fire attack and spread the oil and fire through out the entire 65,000-square-foot floor of the manufacturing portion of the building. A limited foam supply of 30 gallons was initially available, but was not sufficient to extinguish the fire, requiring the response of the county foam supply.

The Forest Park Fire Department and automatic mutual aid from the Village of Greenhills Volunteer Fire Department were dispatched to a reported structure fire at 7:53 A.M. Forest Park Engine 42, with a crew of three; Engine 43, with two firefighters; Ladder 42, with a three-person crew; and Medic 42, with one member, responded under the command of Captain Dan Seiller. Greenhills Quint 48 responded with a crew of four. Prior to the arrival of the fire department, all employees had evacuated the manufacturing and office areas of the building. The temperature at the time of the fire was 27 degrees, with a wind-chill factor of 16 degrees.

Seiller requested a second alarm while enroute at 7:56. Woodlawn Fire Department Quint 96, Springdale Fire Department Engine 90 and Ladder 2, and Greenhills Engine 48 responded.

First-due Engine 43 arrived on scene at 7:57, and Firefighter Chris Arnold reported heavy smoke. Employees informed Engine 43's Fire Apparatus Operator Maria Burns that a mono bore drill machine, located 50 feet inside the overhead door near the A-B corner, was on fire. Two firefighters from Engine 43 and one from Ladder 42 stretched a 2.5-inch attack line to the seat of the fire from side B. Engine 42's crew stretched an additional 2.5-inch line into the building as a backup line.

Ladder 42's aerial was raised to the roof and the remaining two crew members started opening the roof. These firefighters operated two 14-inch saws, cutting six ventilation holes in the roof of the main fire building. The roof sector advised command that the roof structure had become unstable. Due to the interior pressures created by the fire, the metal-deck roofing was lifting up off of the supports. Spot fires were also occurring through the roof. Interior operations lasted only several minutes due to rapid fire spread and the report from firefighters on the roof.

Seiller requested a third alarm at 8:04. Colerain Fire Department Engine 25, Evendale Fire Department Engine 40 and Tower 40, and Springdale Township Fire Department Engine 75 responded. A minute later, crews were ordered out of the building and off the roof. Both of the 2.5-inch attack lines were backed out of the building and placed into operation in defensive positions at the overhead doors on sides B and D. Ladder 42 firefighters continued opening up the building, as there was no visible fire venting to the exterior.

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