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NOVEMBER 6, 2005


141 Point Court,
Lawrence Township

Lawrence Road Fire Co. volunteers responded first-due to a working house fire that was caused by an apparent problem with a fireplace on Sunday, November 6, 2005.

It was about 11:20 a.m. when, while leaving his home in the Stewards Crossing development off Bunker Hill Road, Lawrence Township Ff. Bryan Gibbons (assigned as one of the paid drivers at Lawrenceville Fire Co.), spotted heavy smoke issuing from the chimney of the home at 141 Point Court in Lawrenceville Point, an age-restricted development across the street.

Believing he had a working chimney fire, Gibbons notified the Mercer County Central Communications Center which, at 11:22 a.m., transmitted Box 22-20 and dispatched all three Lawrence Township fire companies: Lawrence Road (Station 22), Slackwood (Station 21), and Lawrenceville (Station 23).

A mutual aid ambulance from Ewing Township’s Pennington Road First Aid Squad (Squad 132) was also dispatched.

Lawrence Road Chief Wayne Hannon arrived on location at 11:24 a.m. and confirmed he had a chimney fire with probable extension. (He discovered that the resident had been burning a Duraflame log, along with several real wood logs, in the fireplace and that flames had apparently spread into the adjacent wall via a defect in the fireplace.)

Lawrence Road’s first due apparatus, Telesquirt 22, arrived at 11:29 a.m. and its crew led off with a preconnected 1.75-inch hoseline.

Telesquirt 22 was commanded by Capt. Michael Byrd, driven by Ff. Ed Budzinski, and crewed by Ff. Ryan Dlabik and Ff. Charles Commini Jr.

Aided by Lawrenceville Chief Dave Burns and Slackwood Chief Michael Oakley, Telesquirt 22’s crew used hand tools to open the wall around the fireplace. They found fire inside the wall and worked to extinguish the flames.

Engine 22 arrived on scene at 11:30 a.m. Engine 22 was commanded by Deputy Chief John Fleming, driven by Ff. Joseph Dlabik Sr., and crewed by Capt. Michael Ratcliffe, Ff. Chris Dlabik and Ff. Evan Kutzin.

Engine 22’s crew went about securing a water supply for Telesquirt 22. A couple hundred feet of 5-inch hose was hand-dragged from Telesquirt 22 to a nearby hydrant, however firefighters found that hydrant to be out of service.

Before a supply line could be stretched to a different hydrant, Telesquirt 22’s crew reported that they had knocked down the bulk of the fire. As a result, Engine 22’s driver (Dlabik Sr.) simply used a 3-inch line to supply his tank water to Telesquirt 22.

Snorkel 21 arrived at 11:34 a.m. and its crew helped Lawrence Road firefighters with salvage and overhaul operations. Salvage tarps were used to cover the residents’ furniture.

Wet-vacs (brought to the scene by Lt. Edward Kitchen and Ff. Steve Adzima in Utility 22) were later used to remove water from the floor around the fireplace.

Hannon declared the blaze under control at 11:36 a.m.

At 11:37 a.m. Mercer County Central transmitted Box 22-10 and notified Hannon that all three Lawrence Township fire companies were being dispatched on a second assignment for a smoke condition in the home at 43 Devon Avenue.

Ladder Tower 23, which was still enroute to Point Court, was immediately diverted to Devon Avenue. Engine 32 from Ewing Township’s Pennington Road Fire Co. was also dispatched mutual aid to Devon Avenue.

Fortunately, Ladder Tower 23’s crew and Pennington Road firefighters found no fire at 43 Devon Avenue. They quickly traced the odor of smoke in the house to a defective belt on a clothes washer.

Meanwhile, Snorkel 21 was recalled from 141 Point Court at 12:15 p.m. Station 22 crews remained on scene assisting investigators and cleaning up until 12:45 p.m.

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