On The Job - Salt Lake City: Safety Fears Addressed During 4-Alarm Fire in Furniture Factory

Jay K. Bradish reports on a four-alarm fire in downtown Salt Lake City that destroyed a 115-year-old building used as a furniture manufacturing facility.


SALT LAKE CITY FIRE DEPARTMENT Chief: Charles M. Querry Apparatus: 13 engines, three aerials, seven ARFF units, one hazmat unit, one heavy rescue, eight ALS ambulances, 16 BLS ambulances, swiftwater rescue team, EMS bicycle team, seven reserve engines, three reserve aerials Population...


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

SALT LAKE CITY FIRE DEPARTMENT
Chief: Charles M. Querry
Apparatus: 13 engines, three aerials, seven ARFF units, one hazmat unit, one heavy rescue, eight ALS ambulances, 16 BLS ambulances, swiftwater rescue team, EMS bicycle team, seven reserve engines, three reserve aerials
Population: 181,000
Area: 111 square miles

On July 23, 2004, a four-alarm fire in downtown Salt Lake City destroyed a 115-year-old building used as a furniture manufacturing facility. This was the third multimillion-dollar fire in 40 days in the area, and because large amounts of wood products were stored at the site, a special call was made for aircraft rescue and firefighting (ARFF) units from Salt Lake City International Airport and the Utah Air National Guard to help control the spread of the fire.

An immediate concern was a three-story apartment building located just 12 feet from the fire building. Large transformers, overhead wires and utility poles were burning when firefighters arrived, and a major concern for their safety existed until the power was shut off.

The 100-by-200-foot, one-story building was of wood-frame construction with a wood roof covered by membrane and composite roofing materials. A fenced-in, 210-by-600-foot outdoor wood-storage area also was consumed by the fire. The Salt Lake Mill and Lumber Company. operated at the location from 1884 to 1999, when it was sold to its present owners. The company specializes in wood furniture, including chairs, tables and desks. One of the companies' largest customers is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The Salt Lake City Fire Department was dispatched to Jeffrey Cobate and Associates, 49 N. 600 West, at 1:05 P.M. Engines 2, 7 and 11; Truck 2, a 100-foot aerial ladder; and Utility 10, a rehab and air-supply truck, responded with 17 firefighters under the command of Battalion Chief Wayne Edginton. It was 93 degrees and dry with a 5-mph wind blowing from the northwest.

Rescue Engine 2 was the first-arriving unit at 1:09, and found fire rolling over the top of the roof along the entire length of the building and in part of the outdoor wood-storage area. Edginton was told that all employees had evacuated the building and were accounted for. Due to the advanced state of the fire, units went immediately to defensive operations.

The immediate concern confronting firefighters was the protection and evacuation of Citifront, a three-story, 53-unit apartment house that was separated from the fire building by a 12-foot alley. Police officers helped firefighters evacuate the residents of the apartments. A church located one block away from the fire served as an evacuation center staffed by American Red Cross workers.

Edginton set up a command post across the street from the incident. Rescue Engine 2 was positioned in front of the building, where firefighters put a 2.5-inch attack line into operation. The engine's deck gun was also placed into operation and a booster line was used to protect the apparatus from radiant heat. Firefighters from Rescue Engine 7 placed three 2.5-inch lines in operation to protect Citifront. Also exposed was a three-story concrete parking garage containing multiple vehicles.

Rescue Engine 11's crew laid a supply line to Citifront's entrance, then advanced five handlines through an archway to the north side of the fire building to protect the apartment building. Truck 2 was positioned in front of the structure and set up for ladder pipe operations.

Edginton called a second alarm at 1:09 P.M. Engines 6 and 9; Truck 8, a 75-foot aerial; and Hazardous Materials Unit 6 were dispatched. District Battalion Chief Mike Andrew; Administrative Assistant to the Fire Chief/PIO Dennis McKone; Safety Officer Raleigh Bunch; Video Technician Martha Ellis (who has since been promoted to ARFF training captain) and Special Operations Coordinator Dave Wharff also responded.

This content continues onto the next page...