Central PA Bravest


Friday, October 5, 2012  At approximately 1945 hours on October 5th the 1st Battalion units were alerted to 10135 Colesville Rd in Company 16s area for smoke in the building shortly after arrival Battalion Chief 1 (Carrigan) dropped the Rapid Intervention Dispatch (RID) due to heavy smoke in the basement area. Initial units on scene found a challenging fire in lower levels of a strip mall due to the older building being cut up over the years. A Taskforce was later requested bringing in additional manpower on this stubborn, smokey fire.  




Thursday, August 30, 2012  At approximately 2100 hours on August 30th, 1st Battalion units were alerted to Lexington Dr in Company 16's for a working house fire. Initial units arrived on scene to find a bedroom fire on the second floor of the residence.





Friday, July 20, 2012 1757 This evening at around 1757 hrs units were dispatched to 14909 Talking Rock Court in Box 31-13 for reported smoke from a house.  PE731 (Lipp) arrived within minutes of dispatch reporting a working fire.  Units found a working fire in the attic and quickly knocked the fire.  Crews worked for about 2 hours with extensive overhaul and investigating the fire.  DC700 (Graham) had the Command.

Unit Rundown:  1st - PE731 PE708 E753 PE703 PE733 T731 PAT708 RS703 M731 BC703 BC705 DC700  RID - AT703 AT723 RS729 M708B

Story and Photos by Staff Correspondent Tim Knepp





Friday, July 13, 2012 0723  This morning just after shift change units were dispatched to an apartment fire at 14005 Castle Blvd, Box 15-27.  First arriving units were met with heavy fire conditions and multiple rescues.  The fire escalated to 3 alarms and units worked the scene for several hours.  Good work to all involved.  




Friday, June 8, 2012 1516  This afternoon at 1516 units were dispatched to I270 SB just south of Falls Road in the Main Lanes for a garbage truck on fire.  This incident as well as a PIC with entrapment and 2 traumas in the Germantown area at the same time on I270 SB caused significant traffic problems in Montgomery County for the Friday afternoon commute.  




Friday, June 8, 2012 1010 This morning at 1010hrs the direct line at ECC rang from Station 14 advising they had a fire in the basement of the building.  ECC then dropped box 14-17 for the building fire at Station 14 at 19801 Beallsville Road.  It was reported that the furnace in the basement of the building had exploded.  The fire was knocked by the building's sprinkler system and mop up and extensive ventilation was performed by units.  It should be noted that in box alarm in fire houses in Montgomery County the station that is on fire is not due on the box, because they may be incapacitated or need to get the apparatus out of the building.

Unit rundown:  E709 PE722 PE735 PE729 E928 AT735 T731 RS914 W709 W722 EW717 BC705 BC703 SA700





Friday, June 1, 2012  With Major Thunderstorms approaching it may be necessary to use chainsaw in a fashion we are not regularly accustomed to in the fire service. Cutting trees and branches that are under stress or have a load on them is extremely dangerous.


Some information to think about before you even pick up a chainsaw:

A chainsaw with a 20 inch bar running at full speed (about 10,000 rpm) will run a chain at almost 55 mph. That means that in one second 1166 cutters will go past any given point on the bar(72 teeth). So, if you touch your thigh (about 10 inches wide) with a saw at full speed for 3 seconds (reaction time) about 16,000, yes, that’s correct sixteen thousand cutter teeth will go over your leg before you can stop it.


Pre-storm checklist:



Check the safety features of the equipment are functioning properly.

Do a visual inspection of the equipment for any necessary repairs.

Check the air filter.

Start the equipment and make sure it runs properly.

Sharpen or replace the chain on your saw if necessary.

Have extra fuel and oil for equipment.

If you refill the fuel, refill the bar oil, EVERYTIME. General Safety tips

* Never let the chain come in contact with the ground while cutting. This will instantly dull the chain and it will need to be replaced or re sharpened

*Never try to cut with a dull chain, if you smell wood burning from your cut, your done.

*Never allow someone to stand at the opposite end of the bar while cutting. Chain failure will result in the chain coming off the bar at over 70 mph!!!

* Assure the saw's chain is properly tensioned before each use and all fasteners, controls and safety features are functioning properly.


* Make sure the bar and chain are always lubricated to prevent the saw from wearing out or cutting poorly. Never let the oil reservoir run out or it will ruin your chain.


* Start the saw while standing on the ground and always hold the handles securely

* Clear debris and small tree limbs from the saw's chain path, and beware of nails and other metal before cutting.


* Avoid saw "kick back," to prevent a serious chain saw injury. Never let the tip of the bar come in contact with anything. Always reference the operator's manual for proper chainsaw operation.


* Wear protective gear


* Chain saw use is a high-risk activity and requires focus, awareness and patience to avoid injury or further damage. Take your time and take breaks when you feel tired or your muscles are fatigued.


* Eliminate hazardous areas - Use a chain saw to remove branches weakened by the storm but still attached. Examine upper canopies for irregular branches and remove these branches with extreme caution. Bowed or stressed branches can easily snap and cause severe injury. Make sure to cut in a location that will eliminate exposure to unexpected breaking limbs.



* Use common sense - Prevent serious or fatal injuries, never use a chain saw when your balance is compromised. Extreme caution and total concentration should be used while up in a tree or on a roof. Don't risk your safety, we are professional, lets act that way.


Five step plan for working with storm damage.

1.     Are there any power lines twisted in the debris?

2.     Analyze wood before cutting - where will it fall? Is there pressure on the wood that will make it move when cut?

3.     If there is an incline, will debris slide when moved or cut?

4.     Be sure of an escape path if a cut tree or debris moves unexpectedly.

Take regular breaks and rest. Many chainsaw injuries can be traced back to fatigue.


Always read your owner’s manual for your particular saw. If in doubt call an authorized dealer or distributer to clarify any issues before saw use.

Be efficient, be trained and do your best,




Pictures and Story by Staff Correspondent Dan Rothermel







Wednesday, May 30, 2012  Today at 1300 hours units from the 3rd Battalion were dispatched to box 03-12 for one trapped under a light rail car at the METRO SHADY GROVE YARD @ 15903 SOMERVILLE DR. The PT was trapped by his leg for about 1 hour before he was extricated and flown to a local tauma center.

Initial alarm: PE703 T703 AT708 RS703 M708B D3 BC703 RAIL DFRS M708B D3 BC703 RAIL DFRS

Additional Units: AT723, PE723, DFRS, E753, FS03, RS729, RS717





Sunday, May 20, 2012 

Today at 1208 units from the 1st and 4th Battalions and Prince Georges County were dispatched to Box 24-3, 5 Appleby Ct for a house fire. Truck 715 (Illowite) was on the air with 3 headed for lunch when the box tones hit. Truck 715 arrived first and reported a 2 story split level, single family house with a well involved car port extending throughout the house. The Truck Company had the ladder bed emptied and the process of removing the window bars started prior to any other apparatus arriving. Engine 724 (Dominick) would have normally been 1st due but was tied up on a med call. Engine 718 (Hefferin) took the 1st due assignment and Engine 715 (Carrigan) pushed in E718 and took the 2nd due assignment. Engine 715 put the 1st interior line in service while Engine 718 knocked the car port area. Truck 715 opened up for Engine 715 while Tower 718 and Rescue 2 performed the primary searches. The bulk of the fire was quickly knocked and held to the attic area of the living space and car port area. Crews remained for a few hours with overhaul, investigations and salvage.


Engines 718, 715, 724, 841, 712, 716

Trucks 715, 718 and 716

Rescues 742 and 814

Battalion Chiefs 701 and 704






Thursday, May 17, 2012  CASE SUMMARY
On 05/03/12 around 1000 am Swatara Township Police and Fire (49, 41, 40) along with Lifeteam were dispatched to the Super 8 Hotel off of Eisenhower Boulevard for a barricaded person involving hazardous materials. When police and fire arrived we found a 2 story hotel with all guests evacuated except a suicidal person on the second floor of the hotel. There was distinct “spoiled egg” odor in the hotel and just outside the hotel.
The scene was immediately secured and Dauphin County Haz Mat Team (77) were requested to assist. A unified command was established along with an evacuation zone. The command consisted of Swatara Fire, Police, Dauphin Co Haz Mat, and Life Team.
A plan was organized and put into action. Two Police Officers with Firefighting Experience and Two firefighters made entry in full PPE to the room to discover the person deceased in the bathroom by way of “Detergent Suicide”. The hazard and deceased were removed from hotel after approx. 3 hours on scene. Following will describe the chemicals used and how the person used them. I will also described lessons learned good and bad so other firefighters will better prepared for this increasing events.
DETERGENT SUICIDE can be found easily on internet and is a common method of suicide in Asian Countries but growing in America. All chemicals are legal and can be obtained easily.
Chemicals mixed
The Works Toilet Bowl Cleaner - Hydrocloric Acid
Hi-Yield Improved Lime Sulfur Spray- Calcium Polysulfide
The person locked his hotel room, then constructed a enclosed “bubble type” area in the bathroom tub and sealed the bathroom with expansion foam. He then enclosed himself in the bathtub and mixed the chemicals. He was in the bathtub for extended period of time prior to a 911 call from the hotel.
Do not rush the incident. Insure everyone is evacuated to a safe distance including emergency personnel. Insure scene security.
Gather as much information as possible. We were able to identify the person, his background, and that his vehicle was parked in the lot. His vehicle was searched prior to entering hotel. Our intell developed that person was suicidal. We also discovered he had received a package at the hotel the day before the incident was reported.
Gather all resources needed, develop a plan, and execute plan with safety. Keep the amount of exposed personnel to just enough to complete the task. Have a RIT Team established and ready to act. Control citizens and other firefighters trying to enter the hazard area out of curiosity. A good accountability is important.
A common action was observed by the first entry team. The suicidal person wrote a warning on the bathroom door warning emergency personnel of chemicals used. This is often recommended on the internet sites describing “Detergent Suicide”. The crew also found a will and notes to family.
All firefighters who entered the scene wore SCBA and PPE. They were all de-coned after operating on scene.
We did not have de-con in place prior to executing plan and we learned to make that operation happen earlier. We learned that de-con suggested was just to shower but we stepped it up to the next level with a full wash down as crews exited the scene.
Overall the incident was well handled and we all went home safe with no further incidents. I hope to share scene photos soon showing the bathroom set up so you can see what it looked like. 
Any questions or need for more information feel free to contact me Pat McKenna, Chief 91, 717-564-2551. I hope this will help prevent any injury or death to any emergency personnel.




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