Email page Print page

Vineland Fire Page 2

Museum Info

Hollywood Museum

1355 N. Caheunga Blvd.
Hollywood, CA 90028
(323) 464 - 2727
SAT 10a - 4p

Harbor Museum

638 Beacon Street
San Pedro, CA 90731
(323) 464 - 2727
SAT 10a - 3p

Off-hour tours available
by special request.

Vineland Fire Page 2

Interior of Structure Fire
By this time, nearly 150 firefighters and 19 companies were on-scene. The street was now a parking lot of fire apparatus, a jumble of hose lines, and a shallow lake of dirty water, with bits of ash floating along the various streams.

The interior of the structure was now primarily dark, with drifting smoke and running water. Several hot spots of fire remained. Above, the fire continued to spread via the ducting to the exterior of the building. Within several minutes, a combination of exterior ladder pipe work and interior hand lines squashed those flames as well.

Division 2 (Assistant Chief) arrived and began coordinating with the on-scene Battalion commanders. Companies who had been in the fire were re-assigned to tasks such as rehab support. Two slightly injured workers at the business involved in the fire were attended to across the street.

A Deputy Chief with BES (Bureau of Emergency Services) arrived and one B/C began a mass interview with the media.

All-in-all, the function of each fire company was carefully coordinated. The command post was active and kept tabs on each aspect of fire fighting, exposure protection, and search and rescue operations. If this were a football game, the score would be very lopsided. Although the fire got a tremendous head-start, the actions of the LAFD were effective and the fire was contained to the structure of origin.

There was no panic, no running, no yelling - yet every unit interacted with others with the same precision of a sports team. Nobody had to prove their machismo - everyone followed orders and took steps to protect themselves and their crews.

LAFD Incident Command Post
As companies moved into knockdown mode, LAFD arson investigators arrived, as did two tractor companies. The bulldozers they carried would level the remains of the building once the last remaining embers were doused and the arson investigation completed.

As hose lines were placed in Engines and ladders lowered, smiles of satisfaction appeared on many faces. The rehab unit distributed water. The emotions that go through a firefighter's mind in such dangerous situations run like a roller coaster and there are few jobs where you smile because you survived the incident. Most firefighters will tell you they don't think about injury or death, but every major emergency incident has the components to deal one or more firefighters a "bad bounce." Bringing everyone home is central to the fire suppression mission.

An officer briefing was held at Vineland IC, and a mini-critique of the action discussed. Suggestions were made on how to further improve operations and commanders shared their experiences relative to controlling the incident. From the initial 4:30PM (1630Hrs) alarm, the fire was totally knocked down in less than 90 minutes.

Upon their return to quarters, a number of companies washed up, ensured their gear was ready for the next call, and began eating dinner, while also holding post-incident drills to ensure the next major emergency fire would be dealt with just as efficiently. The waiting had begun again... the next alarm just a few hours, or a few minutes away.

David Barrett
Producer, Smoke Eaters Documentary Film
Consultant, LAFDHS