Narrative of the fire, drafted and posted yesterday, has been posted in this FireNews.net story.
Here's the first version of a narrative. Edits are welcome. See also photos by Mike Legeros.
[ snip ]
Early incident details. Dispatched 10:20 a.m. Engine 13 arrived with smoke showing from the roofs and eaves of the building. Extensive fire found within voids between ceilings and roof. Engine 1 caught first hydrant. Second alarm requested upon arrival of Car 10, about 10:30 a.m. Crews withdrawn--from interior and from roof--for defense attack about 10:40 a.m. Aerial streams operated with Ladder 2, Ladder 4, and Ladder 3. Four (?) portable monitors used, on two sides of the building. One deck gun used by Engine 13, in front of building. Command at intersection of Glenwood and Lane. Rehab at intersection of Glenwood and North. Staging on North, east of Glenwood, and Glenwood, south of Lane. Four hydrants used: #1 - Glenwood (west side) at Lane, with Engine 1 boosting to Engine 13. Later also supplied Ladder 3. #2 - Glenwood and North, for Ladder 4. No engine boosting. #3 - North, east of Glenwood (?), for Ladder 2. Engine boosting? Controlled at 11:35 a.m. Extensive overhaul with companies on scene into mid-afternoon. Cause determined as accidental, grease fire in kitchen area. See preliminary photos by Mike Legeros.
Mobile phone video clip compilation:
Let's get the coverage rolling. Here's the run card and coverage assignments. Thanks Max, for compiling the move-ups.
First Alarm - 311 Glenwood Avenue
Working Fire - 10:27 a.m.
Second Alarm - 10:30 a.m.
Special called at 10:57 a.m.
Relief companies included
Plus a trio of phone photos. Click to enlarge:
Is it typical for the training staff to respond on a second alarm? Don’t think I ever seen that if they have. And anyone know why EVAC1 was special called? For resources I am assuming…just curoius, I’m sure details will follow.
George - 12/26/12 - 16:01
Thanks for your question, George. At larger and more “all hands” fires in Raleigh, personnel from other divisions in the department may respond and provide assistance. Regarding Evac 1, it was special requested as a rehab resource.
Legeros - 12/26/12 - 16:38
Really sad to see this happen to a pillar of Glenwood South, but it sounded like everyone on scene did a great job of preventing further damage to the exposures. I’m also glad (not quite the best word, but you know what I mean) that the fire happened at 10:30 a.m. instead of 10:30 p.m. on a weekend, which could have been a completely different scene with victims, traffic, hydrant access, etc.
I hope the employees are able to quickly recover, and also hope that the city uses this as an opportunity to educate our citizens on the services RFD provides and how having the number of companies relatively nearby may have kept a bad situation from getting much worse.
Eric - 12/26/12 - 17:40
I believe those are the coolest AND saddest pictures I’ve seen.
Patron - 12/26/12 - 21:38
news coverage showed at 6pm, E124 which is a reserve truck. and on the 11pm news, E24 and Ladder1 were out on glennwood doing hotspot / flair up duty. so in the next couple of days it would be interesting to know what companies responded as relief overnight.
charlie - 12/27/12 - 00:57
Thanks, Jason. The pictures came out good, and despite the heavy rain. They’re a bit grainy, as I used 1600 ISO, chosen for the cloudy/darker lighting and the fast-moving subjects. It’s a poor man’s cheat for fast shutter speed, but this was an umbrella shoot. Left hand was otherwise occupied and thus conditions weren’t optimal for changing camera settings. (Was tricky for composition and zoom as well.)
The crews did the real work, of course. And the property owner suffered a grievous loss, and that’s being felt by his employees and patrons. The fire was also the first serious worker in a while at a downtown commercial location. Maybe since South Blount Street on June 12, 2009. Mr. Wilson attended that one. The last of mine along these lines was probably Hammell Drive on September 21, 2008.
Ours isn’t a burning city by any means, and certainly not in the downtown business areas. Credit the forces of enforcement, prevention, and suppression that keep the red devil in check.
Legeros - 12/27/12 - 09:56
Great write up Mike along with great pics and great job by all of the Public Safety personnel on scene. Kudos to Raleigh FD for keeping a difficult fire contained. Sad to see the Hibernian burn down but hopefully the owner will rebuild.
Marshall Sherard KE4ZNR (Email) (Web Site) - 12/27/12 - 13:08
1) WTVD reported yesterday that there was a delay in reporting the fire because an employee thought they could extinguish it. Any idea how long that delay was?
2) I really can’t believe they didn’t have sprinklers installed. I thought that I saw sprinkler heads once when I was there, but I guess I was mistaken. Can anyone explain who is required to have sprinklers in the city?
Eric - 12/27/12 - 13:20
Thanks for your questions, Eric. I don’t have any information regarding the first question. And if you’ll wait a bit, we’ll probably get a reader response on the second question.
Legeros - 12/27/12 - 13:30
Not trying to step on toes, and i already know that every fire is different but..Just curious and along with several other folks who have asked me…but why does it seem like RFD isnt as aggressive as it was before? Seems like alot of buildings are burning up when a few years ago aggressive interior attacks where being made. I mean the pics are pretty with ALL that fire but what happend to the days of eating a little smoke, pulling some ceiling and squirting some water? maybe its just bad luck or has tactics changed?
With all the engines, ladders, firefighters that the city can put on the scene in a fairly short amount of time, it seems to me that either the fires have had huge jumps or just less of an aggressive approach is being made? Just a friendly question on why things seem like they have changed.
TTaylor - 12/27/12 - 14:38
ERIC:I thought the same thing. How can a commercial property that has been sold many different times through the years not been required to bring the building up to at least the 2003 IBC? Maybe the city has their own strict fire codes or local ammendments that work for existing commercial buildings.
I’m certainly not saying this fire could have been avoided but i would think the size and scope would have been smaller.
The placement of Ladder 4 was spot on.
What size water mains are down there?
Saw lots of 5 inch on the ground.
Buckwheat - 12/27/12 - 14:40
Mr. Taylor, your question about tactics then versus now— eating smoke, going inside, and such— will require responses from those in the know. Our reader firefighters (both RFD and urban FFs in general) can provide perspective and probably in short order. (Though that’s not necessarily an invitation for a blow-by-blow discussion or dissection of this particular fire. Such conversations are quite tricky, and offense is often very easily taken. And even when prepended with words like “not trying to start anything.”)
As an insider outside observer, I can attest to the success of the city’s firefighting current firefighting tactics. The proof as I have observed is in the pudding. Despite my best attempts at being an aggressive fire photographer, raw quantities of red stuff is pretty hard to capture. The fires around here get extinguished quite quickly with the very tactics that you’re asking about.
Legeros - 12/27/12 - 15:25
...I will add that your question reminds me of something a bystander asked me yesterday. “Why is it taking them so long to get water on the fire,” some one ask, after the first master streams started flowing. To which I answered “They’ve been spraying water all along, just inside the building.”
Legeros - 12/27/12 - 15:30
@TTaylor, I don’t know if you are familiar with the Hibernian or Glenwood South, but there are a ton of exposures in this area. Were it not for the smart aggressiveness of the crews on scene many other businesses may have suffered the same fate as Hibernian.
Eric - 12/27/12 - 16:09
I am pretty familiar with exposures and all the normal that goes on during a fire…my only question is why does it seem that the last few photographed fires have appeared to be average in size but only to end up with pretty impressive displays of aerial master streams. Of course i wasnt on scene at Hibernian nor several other past fires but a picture sometimes can tell the story and what sometimes appears to be a normal working job for some reason ends up with everything burned up except asphalt outside.
Ive been a career firefighter for about 10 years and have seen my share of things that can go wrong and things that could go wrong. Reading Mike’s narrative of the fire yesterday and trying to learn from what we’ve heard, read, experienced and try to play that into the events yesterday, it just kinda makes some of us outside of RFD wonder why it did what it did. It states crews went in with handlines, ladders in place for vent, 20 minutes in and evac horns are blasting.
Just seems that many of the past few working jobs (last couple of years) have ended up with only walls standing and everything else turned to ashes.
@legeros, in question to some of your statements..“I can attest to the success of the city’s firefighting current firefighting tactics.” Lately the success as captured in your photos show that Everyone goes home, a few walls may still be standing. The part i think alot of other outsiders are trying to figure out is how can you have that much equipment with that much personel on normal run of the mill fires and let roofs, contents, property burn up?!? Other smaller aggressive departments have those same types of fires and manage to knock it down and basically leave a few traces of smoke stained exterior walls or a broken window or two, but keep the fire spread to a minimum. Sure we have fires that get away from us and have no choice but to back out, but doesnt happen that much.
“The fires around here get extinguished quite quickly ..“Why is it taking them so long to get water on the fire,” some one ask, after the first master streams started flowing. To which I answered “They’ve been spraying water all along, just inside the building.” But if fire attack was going on for almost 20 minutes and no head way was being made, was it because an inch and a half wasnt cutting it or venting made it worse or was it to much time spent setting ladders up for the arriving photographer or preparation of burning it up.
I surely am no fire God and im glad every one went home safely but from having 3 generations come through RFD and knowing the stories told from then to now and even looking back through your photos..it just seems like the man in charge wants things done a little differently.
TTaylor - 12/27/12 - 17:30
You raise a good question. Are my photos reasonably representative of the strategies and/or outcomes of firefighting in Raleigh? I’m inclined to think not, because they don’t include a cross-section of everything. They don’t capture, say, the frequent working fires that are contained to a room and contents. And all the “big fires that didn’t become big fires.” Rather, they’re perhaps the opposite. They’re more often the extreme examples. At a minimum, in this case of this civilian photographer, the incidents are chosen based on my schedule and availability, geography proximity, lighting conditions, and, well, dramatic-ness.
Legeros - 12/27/12 - 20:16
Your pictures are great! Like i said before, they can tell you alot about whats going on, especially if you have some experience. The way the smoke is talking to ya, what type of construction you’re dealing with, how long has she been burning, what’s burning, how long we got???...etc. You capture quite a bit of excellent photos and i enjoy looking at them. Even if they cant capture everything, some is better than none. When light smoke is captured then a few slides later visible fire coming through the roof, then lots of fire, then maybe lots of steam, hose lines still inside, maybe outside..WE can kinda piece whats going on lots of times even though WE are not physically there. Thanks for capturing what you do.
TTaylor - 12/27/12 - 21:49
If you click the little “I” button on each picture page, you’ll see the EXIF information for the photo. It includes the time the picture was taken.
It’s helpful for establishing an exact timeframe for a particular sequence of images.
Legeros - 12/27/12 - 21:52
Regarding sprinklers, under IBC, they are optional for most buildings, new or old. Sprinklers are intended to allow time for egress and not for saving a structure. Although sprinklers save many buildings, it is a beneficial side effect. IBC has a whole series of guidelines and formulas that determine the need for sprinklers. They factor in occupancy use, occupancy loads, construction type, size of a floor, number of stories, and distance to the property line among a few other things. Providing sprinklers allows an increase in the building area, number of floors, distance to an exit, and occupancy load above the baseline.
This particular building is a one story building and the major assembly space has a direct connection to the exterior. Rather than providing sprinklers, 2 double doors would provide more than enough egress capacity for the use and much more cost effective than a sprinkler system. Sprinklers become a code requirement in much larger buildings due to the distance a person must travel to exit and the time that takes.
All that being said, sprinklers a very common in new construction whether it is required are not. They allow the owners more freedom with the size of the building and the layout of the interior spaces (increased travel allowances). Also, many insurance companies either require them or give substantial discounts on premiums which will offset the initial costs.
Brady - 12/28/12 - 11:02
The fire was well advanced up between the ceiling and the roof. Once some inspection holes were pulled, it apparently added enough additional air to create problems. The initial interior crews said it wasn’t too bad upon first entry but then went very far south in a real hurry. Structural integrity was surely the major concern about when to sound the horns. It was mentioned afterwards that the fire scenario was very similar the the Charleston furniture store fire. A question was made to me recently asking how it got so far ahead. If the employees did delay reporting it to try and extinguish themselves (as was heard by someone), that would go a long way to explaining how it took hold and why it took nearly an hour of flowing from 3 aerial master streams, 1 deck gun, and two blitz nozzles (If I remember correct)(about 5000 gal/min. not including handlines if I’m figurin’ right). There was plenty of timber in that building to allow a fire to take hold. I’ve been to plenty of fires where neither Mike nor Lee were there for various reasons, I’m sure. There is PLENTY of aggressiveness in the tactics. There were several times the other day (while all the aerials were flowing) that white smoke was seen and then to have flare ups evidenced by darker smoke from other areas of the building. Sorry but the pics don’t tell the story you are thinking they do, as good as they are.
Bobert - 12/28/12 - 14:03
@TTaylor Speaking on this fire…..not really sure how much more aggressive you can be; two lines in and vertical ventilation performed almost simultaneously. Searches revealed everyone was out, and heavy fire was in the void spaces above.
Was the call to 911 delayed? I don’t know. What I do know; multiple roofs one on top of the other, and a building that had been renovated a few times with no sprinklers and a high fuel load. Add in that the ceiling had some sort of covering that made it difficult to drop the ceilings, unlike your typical residence.
Lessons learned? Of course, every fire I hope we learn something new. Could anything been done different to change the outcome? My opinion only; I don’t think so.
Silver - 12/30/12 - 14:41
Does verticle ventilation always need to be performed? I don’t believe so. With that said sometimes people or departments think it is needed when like TTaylor mentioned an aggressive interior attack is all that is warranted. This fire however and more than likely needed to that vertical vent job. This fire is similar to the fire that Charlotte had a couple years back when they went in and all was clear except all the fire was between the drop ceiling and the roof.
Enough said about this fire. Going back on some of TTaylor’s points, it seems to me that on fires in Cary the only ladders that are going up are egress ladders unlike 5 or 6 years ago. The tables have turned, ladder pipes are in the air (and flowing in most cases) at RFD fires now, and small residential homes are becoming total loss. The department that I work is well under staffed but we go to work and save a lot of lives and property. We don’t get near the credit the big City departments do and get paid a lot more. 3 man engines,2 man rescue or ladder and rural water supply in 40% of our area. Maybe Mike will start a thread and let us post our departments run totals and total working fires at midnight for the 2012? Along with our daily staffing totals and square mile districts. I believe it will open a lot of eyes on this blog.
You guys and girls have a great new year.
911 - 12/31/12 - 19:26
Thank you for comments, albeit anonymously, Mr./Mrs. 911. The comparison of working fire data, along with daily staffing totals and square-mileage for districts would be indeed be interesting. Not sure how much participation we’d get with regard to submissions, either officially or under the table. I suspect that talking freely and/or frankly on the subject, and in a niche public forum as this, might be much for some.
Regarding ladder pipes and Cary and Raleigh and such and who’s using them, and small residential homes become total losses, I’d like to see some data to support your assertions. That is, some broader overviews of just how many working fires by respective departments result in aerial operations. (Though to me, that doesn’t equal a correlation to inefficient or un-aggressive interior attacks. Not many choices when structural conditions become a danger. Flow from ground, flow from air, or don’t flow. Don’t call me Flo.)
Legeros - 12/31/12 - 20:06
I have been keeping up with this topic for a little while now and would like to say that RFD did a great job from taking a well advanced fire in a really old and “nightmare type” structure and holding it in check so that they only had one major working fire and not three or four. The best part is that everyone went home. And to the best of my knowledge, everyone has been coming home on these “aerial master stream fires”. I don’t know anyone who is knocking on RFD but I would guess that they will see more than one day or two where they burn one to the dirt. If not then they aren’t a real fireman (firewoman). I would also like to give a huge thank you to the ones that have in the past/present/future made the call that enough is enough. Everyone is hellbent on the old school teachings of “life safety, property and scene”. A good officer understands that your crew and yourself is the first and most important thing. Thank you for not making myself and others break out our dress uniforms and put the black bands on our badges. And I would only think that Mike and Lee would only be able to get the big fires on camera and like not be able to get the many, many little fires that RFD and all the other county and city departments have due the the simple fact that….. Well, they just don’t burn long enough. It’s not very exciting to only see fires after they have been put out and the overhaul is over with, or at least I don’t care too much to see them, I like to see the red stuff. And I don’t want to make anyone mad by this but I was just putting my two cents in. To some it up, don’t throw rocks if you live in a glass house and even more so if you haven’t seen a lot of houses. Happy New Year Folks. Be safe and let’s all make it a goal to come home at all cost. I would rather be in the paper for burning three houses instead of three fireman…. God bless everyone and keep up the good work.
OutsiderLookingIn - 01/01/13 - 02:37
I am really glad that everyone has kept this conversation really civil and not blown up. Valid points have been made about this fire and i completely understand where you guys are coming from..for the most part. Not every fire is as easy as we all would like to see, but i think what @OutsiderLookingIn posted “Everyone is hellbent on the old school teachings of “life safety, property and scene”. A good officer understands that your crew and yourself is the first and most important thing. Thank you for not making myself and others break out our dress uniforms and put the black bands on our badges.” In my opinion, We are continuing to protect ourselves more by becoming more aware of signs of iminent danger, but when did we start giving up on peoples property? I know that with this fire in general, there was a heavy fire load and exposures, but what i think we are refering to is what about the normal room and contents style fires in single/double/multi story residential structures? Guys, we have fires of all types in our district as well, and i know how things can get ‘cut up’ on the interior and make fires hard to find. Maybe you can call it “old school” tactics but with today’s advancements in technology and as well as our own education and training, we seem to do alot more “firefighting” instead of spending lots of time trying to cut holes or this and that…we hump hose, perform a quick knock down, and mop it up. This doesnt meen that im against venting or any of that..its just like 911 said, we dont have all that manpower and if we looked at it as “well everyone is out” and stood back and let roofs burn off and protect exposures…our taxpayers wouldnt like that too much. We are all very fortunate to get done with a tour and for the most part return home to our family…we didnt sign up to just clean toilets and floors, we can still be extremly aggressive and cautious at the same time and hopefully go home.
Happy New Year to all my brothers and sisters in this crazy ole world we live in! Stay safe!
TTaylor - 01/01/13 - 10:32
Outsider makes some good points. How many times have we “risked alot”, only to see bulldozers piling everything up days later? All those hours of work to “save” a dwelling, when ultimately nothing was saved at all. We have to make a stand and be aggressive to prevent damage, but at some point we have to stand back and look at the bigger picture. After their initial attack, looks like RFD made the right call to bring everyone back home safely and minimize effect to the adjacent businesses.
Chris - 01/01/13 - 10:43
Chris, if you browse or search the firehouse.com forums, you can see months and years of discussion, debate, and name-calling, regarding the conflicting (to some) viewpoints between “save stuff” and “protect ourselves.”
TTaylor, if you are seeking a higher-level discussion on same, then please continue. But be sure you have evidence to support the statement “when did we start giving up on peoples property?” Them can be fighting words if leveled in too accusatory a fashion. Or directed in examples of specific fires or at specific departments.
Legeros - 01/01/13 - 10:55
...but even then, TTaylor, a conversation on “[in my opinion], this department let’s them burn” or “[in my opinion], that particular fire was tactically too [insert adjective]” is not necessarily welcome here. Sorry to disappoint, but my limits are based on personal tolerance and experience regarding how the rest of our readers react. (Not to mention the propriety of talking about such things in a public forum. Do we really want stakeholders to happen upon such a discussion?) Fireworks are exciting, to be sure. But this blog and bloggers opts for more measured (dull?) conversations. So be it.
Legeros - 01/01/13 - 11:07
TTaylor we’d also like to know which dept you are a member of and your years of experience so that we can have a better appreciation of where your opinions are coming from.
Mike - 01/01/13 - 12:16
Mike, yes, bonafides could be useful in these discussions, at least from those stepping into the spotlight to present their thoughts at length.
Better or more realistic is probably the Facebook model of comments, which we don’t have here, but maybe someday can implement. Where identities are equalized and at least there would be names and faces to associate with participants.
Legeros - 01/01/13 - 12:20
Well forgive me for not being a professional blogger..i thought maybe this was kind of like a discussion board…seems like it always has been when other departments have their incidents splattered all over the media. Definitely didn’t think that having an opinion about a career i’m extremely passionate about would catch this much grief.
@Mike.. My name is Tyson Taylor aka TTaylor, a great grandson to the late Red Taylor of Raleigh FD, grandson to the late Capt. Henderson Taylor of Raleigh FD, and son to Timothy Taylor who also was a member of the Raleigh FD,. I’m 29 years old with about 10 paid years of service. Began as a volunteer/junior ff with Angier FD at the age of 15, Started with Lillington FD just out of high school where i began earning a pay check, later to Fuquay-Varina FD in October 2002, moved away after 4 years of being there to pursue a different business opp at the coast, joined Emerald Isle FD while away. Moved back to the Johnston County area and got married, joined Archer Lodge FD as a vollie, was hired full time at Zebulon in feb 08, rehired at Fuquay october 08 where i am still currently employed as an A shifter flying the goose at the deuce.
I hope this helps identify myself, i’ve got several years left in the fire service to learn from hands on experience, other people trials and errors but i also …watch out, here’s another opinion…believe that a firefighter with 30 years on the job will retire thinking the same way as i about learning more…
TTaylor - 01/01/13 - 21:08
Tyson, thanks for the introduction. How many other fourth-generation firefighters we got out there? That would be something neat to track…
Legeros - 01/01/13 - 23:02
@Legeros I love the idea of having to make a “profile”; with name, department and a pic to go along with it. It would definitely keep things more civil, and get away from the “vague=anonymous” identities. Make it a requirement for posters, readers can read as they wish.
@911 I never said you have to vertically ventilate every fire. However, the conditions at THIS FIRE warranted it. One could interpret your meaning of “aggressive” to mean don’t ventilate, and just go in there with hose lines and pull ceilings; let’s make it a few booster lines while we’re at it so we can really take a beating. Don’t forget “the fan” too (I’m joking around here, obviously).
The fire was HIDDEN; by opening the roof they gave it someplace to go with hopes of CONFINING it. I give these guys credit for not having the “I gotta do something” mindset (which firemen are famous for) and busting out the front windows. They didn’t until large water lines were used, which shows great discipline and an understanding by those on scene of what exactly was trying to be accomplished by opening the roof towards the back, with hose lines advancing from the front.
Being able to recognize when fire conditions dictate vertical ventilation is needed (and getting there quick to do it), along with coordination and advancement of hose lines are considered “aggressive”. Maybe we should start posting every single fire we have too, the ones that aren’t so attractive to the media folk for a quick news blip and the drama of being able to use “a total loss”. When’s the last time you heard the news say “room and contents fire”, or “the fire department made a great stop”? Didn’t think so….
@TTaylor I was reading along in your last post, but you lost me. I have no idea what you were trying to convey with this; “Maybe you can call it “old school” tactics but with today’s advancements in technology and as well as our own education and training, we seem to do alot more “firefighting” instead of spending lots of time trying to cut holes or this and that…we hump hose, perform a quick knock down, and mop it up”.
Happy New Year to everyone on here, let’s make it a great one. Take every opportunity to educate and train yourselves (getting out of the firehouse, takenclasses, internet, book reading, post incident performance review), and stay COMBAT READY.
Silver - 01/01/13 - 23:40
Silver, there’s an opportunity for someone to someday create a profile-based firefighting community in these parts. The thing would require names or identities. It would probably also require moderation at the outset. Or at least an overseer. This blog platform can’t support same, with its current technology. Maybe there’s a young gearhead who’s web-savvy and will dip their toe into the blog/board pond, one of these months/years.
Legeros - 01/02/13 - 08:31
Tyson Taylor!! I am starting to feel my age now! LOL
gen3fire - 01/04/13 - 16:16
I am not a firefighter, but I do know a little bit about buildings in the Glenwood area and I have yet to hear two words every older North Carolinian will immediately recognize: lighter pine. There is alot of it around and it is some flammable stuff.
HandyGuyKattermann (Web Site) - 01/08/13 - 23:32