At 2356 hours on Saturday March 19, 2011, the Huntingtown (MD) Volunteer Fire Department was alerted for the reported Chimney Fire in a residential house. The home was not conventional by any accounts as it was a 10,000 Square foot single family dwelling. While en-route, firefighters received information that the owner was trying to extinguish the fire and believed it had spread to the attic.
The first arriving chief officer arrived to find smoke showing from the second floor eaves of this 10,000 square foot mega-mansion. The first-due Engine laying a supply line, advancing a 400′ pre-connect and began pulling the ceiling within the interior, at which time they found fire in the truss loft concealed attic spreading rapidly. Within seconds, conditions deteriorated rapidly resulting in zero visibility accompanied by intense heat. Command immediately ordered evacuation tones.
Due to high winds off the adjacent river, coupled with water supply issues, response distance times from quarters, and the size of the structure (10,000 square feet), fire spread rapidly resulting in nine firefighter injuries during the rapid egress and bailout from the interior positions. Immediately thereafter, the second floor flashed ,several firefighters took extreme measures such as jumping out of windows and running through walls to evacuate the structure.
A detailed account of the incident with video, photos and pre-fire house images is available on CommandSafety.com, HERE
Insights and discussion points;
- Are you aware of large or mega-sized residential occupancies within your district, greater alarm or mutual/automatic aid response areas?
- Do you pre-fire plan these occupancies?
- Have you established special protocols, SOPs or procedure for potential operations at these occupancies?
- Have you considered augmented first-alarm, supplemental or immediate greater alarm response deployments at these structures?
- Do you have adequate first-due fire suppression capabilities AND fire flow; (GMP and sustainable water flow and pressure) to implement an offensive tactical IAP?
- Do you have adequate staffing to support the above?
- Have you practices operations that require deployment and coordinated actions?
- Do you treat an 8,000 SF; 9,000 or 10,000 SF SFR occupancy the same as you would a 3,000-4,000 SF residence? Does this matter?
- Do you think the fire load package within today’s residential (minor or mega-house) settings has any bearing on fire suppression capabilities and the containment?
- What have your past experiences indicating to you?
- Are your personnel and command staff prepared to address “Wind-Driven fires?”
- Different Strategies and Tactics?
- Are you adequatly trained, prepared and resourced to address a working fire in a casa grande, mega-residential occupancy?
- Do Commercial Fire based tactics have their place at “residential” occupancies?
- Do you understand the concept of; “Occupancy Risk versus Occupancy Type?
- How does Fire Dynamics, Fire Load, Occupancy compartmentation and fire suppression capabilities or gaps relate to incident scene operations?
- Are fires in mega-mansions a special concern? If so, what are you doing about it?