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3-11 Alarm fire in Chicago
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Chicago fire trucks at fire scene
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Chicago fire trucks at fire scene
Steve Redick photo
Chicago fire trucks at fire scene
Steve Redick photo

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Kitchener Ontario Fire Dispatch was extremely busy May 5, 2020 with multiple fires coming in minutes apart. Dispatch is responsible for all fire calls in the Region of Waterloo with a population of approximately 610,000. There are three full time departments, Kitchener (7 stations), Cambridge (6 stations), and Waterloo (4 stations). The four township departments are paid-on-call. The largest of these department is Woolwich (6 stations), then Wellesley (3 stations), Wilmot (3 stations), and North Dumfries with one station. Cambridge is contracted to cover 40% of the township for the first hour.

Tuesday, May 5 had been a relatively quiet day for dispatch with just a handful of calls. That all changed at approximately 14:20 when four of the Cambridge stations were dispatched to a possible structure fire at 144 Franklin Street North. Firefighters arrived and reported smoke and fire visible on the E4 side and were informed that homeless people had exited the abandoned building before crews arrived.

Numerous hand lines were pulled to attack the fire which was knocked down in 20 minutes. Access to the house was difficult due to the northbound lane of Fountain Street being closed for construction.

Cambridge’s remaining two stations were dispatched to a brush fire on Hespeler Road at this time, and just to keep dispatch busy, Waterloo was dispatched to an automatic alarm in an apartment building, which was updated to smoke in the hallway prompting a third station to be dispatched.

I was responding to the call and was halfway there when dispatch toned out Elmira, Floradale, and St Jacobs for a possible structure fire at 81 First Street West. Firefighters from the Elmira station reported heavy smoke visible from their hall.

Three Box 690 members were on scene at the Cambridge fire, so I turned around and headed north to cover the Elmira fire where three other members helped me. Elmira had arrived to a fully-involved, single-story group home, with heavy fire through the roof. The Elmira pumper was out for the annual pump test so Tank 612 was first out. One 65 mm and three 45 mm lines were pulled to attack the fire and protect the exposure on the C-side. Elmira’s quint picked up a hydrant on Flamingo Street and setup for tower operations in addition to putting two 45 mm hoses into operation. A passerby alerted residents and staff of the fire and all safely exited the building before firefighters arrived. The fire was knocked down in 45 minutes. Fire is believed to have started in a shed on the E2 side of the building. Photos were taken approximately 25 minutes into the Elmira fire. Box 690 provided rehab at both fires.

house fire in Woolwich Township Ontario
Gary Dinkel photo
house fire in Woolwich Township Ontario
Gary Dinkel photo

Gary Dinkel, Box 690

Around 12 AM Tuesday morning (5/5/20), Plainfield Township fire crews were alerted to a reported structure fire at the Valley Townhome apartments, 4135 Tamarack Turn NE. Dispatch received multiple calls reporting fire throughout the townhouse. Plainfield Car 3 requested a second alarm and Engine 3 requested the 3rd alarm upon arrival. Companies operated in a defensive posture and crews from Ada, Algoma, Alpine, Cannon TWP, Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids TWP, Plainfield TWP, and Walker responded. – Dylan Bartz

night fire scene
Dylan Bartz photo
E-ONE fire truck at work
Dylan Bartz photo
townhouse fire at night
Dylan Bartz photo
Firefighter at night fire scene
Dylan Bartz photo
Plainfield Township FD fire truck
Dylan Bartz photo
Firefighters at fire scene
Dylan Bartz photo

On 3/26/2020, Weymouth Fire Alarm (Massachusetts) dispatched companies to a reported building fire at the old Weymouth Naval Air Station. Upon arrival, companies had heavy fire showing from multiple buildings in what were the barracks. Multiple defensive lines were run and two ladder pipes were put into operation. Eventually a second alarm was struck, bringing mutual aid from Quincy, Braintree, and Hingham to the scene.

2-Alarm fire in Weymouth MA
Sean Fesko/911 ERV

massive building fire at night
Sean Fesko/911 ERV
2-Alarm fire in Weymouth MA
Sean Fesko/911 ERV
building engulfed by fire at night
Sean Fesko/911 ERV
2-Alarm fire in Weymouth MA
Sean Fesko/911 ERV
Pierce fire truck at night fire scene
Sean Fesko/911 ERV

Three Alarms in Boston’s Dorchester Neighborhood

On 3/5/2020, Boston Fire Alarm dispatched companies to a reported fire on Stonehurst Street in the Dorchester neighborhood. First-due companies had heavy fire on the second and third floors, and a second alarm was called about five minutes later. A third alarm was eventually struck. At one point a mayday was declared for a missing member but he was quickly found and self-extricated from the building.

3-Alarm fire in Boston on Stonehurst Street
Sean Fesko/911 ERV
3-Alarm fire in Boston on Stonehurst Street
Sean Fesko/911 ERV
3-Alarm fire in Boston on Stonehurst Street
Sean Fesko/911 ERV
Boston FD Tower Ladder 10
Sean Fesko/911 ERV
3-Alarm fire in Boston on Stonehurst Street
Sean Fesko/911 ERV

Sunday March 1 was a very busy morning for Wilmot Ontario firefighters. Personnel from all three stations were taking an ice water rescue course across from the Baden fire hall. Kitchener fire dispatch toned out New Hamburg station for a MVC at Highway 7&8 and Nafziger Road around 10:50. New Hamburg responded with a heavy rescue, pumper, tanker, and 75’ quint.

At 11:10 Baden and New Dundee were dispatched to a structure fire at 126 Front Street in New Dundee. The address is half a block up the street from the fire hall. New Dundee came on the air and confirmed a firefighter reported the house had fire showing on the main floor of a large, two-story, century old home. A New Dundee pumper arrived within minutes and confirmed a working fire. Dispatch was asked to check with New Hamburg command to see if they could send their aerial and tanker as water supply for fires is provided by tankers filling from a dam two blocks from the scene. The accident was minor in nature and both trucks were released to assist New Dundee.

Dispatch advised they had a second structure fire in a large driving shed on Bethel Road approximately five miles from New Dundee. The New Hamburg tanker and rescue responded to the second fire, and mutual aid was requested from Ayr with a pumper, two tankers, and their chief. New Hamburg arrived and reported a tractor had been on fire in the driving shed, but quick action by the owner pushing the tractor out of the building with averted a potential structure fire. Ayr was returned before arriving and New Hamburg’s tanker was rerouted back to New Dundee.

The New Dundee fire appeared to have started in the kitchen while the tenants were away. The fire was knocked down quickly and a number of pets were brought out and resuscitated. Crews had hours of overhaul on their hands. The fire worked its way up the wall necessitating pulling all the walls down on the E4 side of the building up to the attic. The fire was not declared out until approximately 13:30. New Dundee P22 set up at the dam to fill tankers. Box 690 provided rehab. Photos taken 25 minutes into the incident, just after fire under control was broadcast. 

Gary Dinkel, Box 690

Canadian Firefighter at fire scene
Gary Dinkel photo
Wilmot Township fire engine
Gary Dinkel photo