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AUGUST 28, 2006


342 Beechwood Avenue,
Ewing Township

A Lawrence Road Fire Co. volunteer was one of two firefighters who were transported to an area hospital for treatment of heat exhaustion after they helped battle a destructive house fire in Ewing Township during the early hours of Monday, August 28, 2006.

Lawrence Road Ff. R.J. Laird III and Slackwood Fire Co. Capt. Ken Kandrac were both sent home after they received intravenous fluids and other treatment at Capital Health System at Fuld hospital in Trenton.

Investigators from the Ewing Township police department, the township fire marshalís office, the Mercer County Fire Marshalís Office, and the state Division of Fire Safety eventually ruled that the fire at 342 Beechwood Avenue (which occupied the left half of a 2.5-story duplex) was caused by a faulty electrical cord in the master bedroom located at the front second floor.

The homeowners awoke shortly before 6:30 a.m. to find their home rapidly filling with smoke. The husband and wife quickly gathered their two sons, ages 13 and 15, and the familyís pet dog and fled the burning structure. They used a cell phone to call 911.

At 6:31 a.m. the Mercer County Central Communications Center transmitted Box 31-10 and dispatched Prospect Heights Fire Co. (Station 31), along with Engine 32 from Pennington Road Fire Co., and Ladder Tower 33 from West Trenton Fire Co. Ewing Township Emergency Medical Service Ambulance 139-1 was also dispatched.

At 6:34 a.m. West Trenton Chief Ralf Brandmaier arrived on location and reported heavy fire showing from the second floor of the dwelling.

Mercer County Central immediately upgraded to a full first alarm, resulting in all three Ewing Township fire companies being retoned at 6:34 a.m., along with Lawrence Roadís Rescue 22 being dispatched to the scene at the rapid intervention team.

First-alarm units responded as follows: Squirt 31 at 6:36 a.m.; Engine 32 at 6:38 a.m.; Rescue 22 at 6:39 a.m.; Ladder Tower 33 at 6:39 a.m.; Rescue 32 at 6:42 a.m.; Engine 31-1 at 6:43 a.m.; Engine 33 at 6:45 a.m.; Ladder Tower 31 at 6:53 a.m.; and Light Plant 32 at 6:56 a.m.

Rescue 22 was commanded by Capt. Michael Byrd, driven by Ff. Charles Commini Sr., and crewed by Capt. Michael Ratcliffe, Ff. Adam Rivera, Ff. Joseph Dlabik Jr., Ff. R.J. Laird, Ff. Jarred Pierson and Ff. Evan Kutzin.

Squirt 31 and Engine 32 arrived on scene at 6:40 a.m. Squirt 31 took a position in front of the fire building and its crew stretched a 1.75-inch hoseline to the interior to begin the fire attack. Engine 32ís crew, meanwhile, laid a large-diameter supply line to a hydrant near the corner of Beechwood Avenue and Parkway Avenue.

Ladder Tower 33 arrived at 6:44 a.m. and to a position on Radnor Avenue, along Side B of the fire building. Ladder Tower 33ís bucket was raised to the roof for ventilation purposes.

Rescue 22 reached the fireground at 6:47 a.m. and took up a position near Squirt 31 after accessing Beechwood Avenue from the opposite direction off Homan Avenue

Rescue 32 also arrived at 6:47 a.m., followed by Engine 33 at 6:50 a.m., Engine 31-1 at 6:54 a.m., Ladder Tower 31 at 6:57 a.m. and Light Plant 32 at 6:59 a.m.

Because of the heavy fire conditions, an extra ladder company was special-called at 6:49 a.m. Snorkel 21 from Slackwood Fire Co. responded at 6:56 a.m. and at 7:04 a.m.

An extra engine company was special-called at 6:54 a.m. Engine 14-2 from Enterprise Fire Co. responded immediately and reached the scene by 6:59 a.m.

Rescue 22ís crew was immediately dissolved of RIT duties and put to work.

Initially, Rescue 22ís crew was ordered to report to the second floor of the fire building to perform interior ventilation. Too many firefighters already operating on the narrow stairwell and on the second floor prevented Rescue 22ís crew from completing that assignment, so Rescue 22ís crew was reassigned to outside ventilation duties.

Rescue 22ís crew raised a ground ladder on Side B and Byrd climbed up to take out a third floor window. Next, Lawrence Road firefighters raised another ground ladder to the roof of the front porch of the Side D exposure (the right side of the duplex).

Several members of Rescue 22ís crew climbed to the porch roof and hauled up another ground ladder that they then raised to the main roof of the exposure building. Using pike poles and a booster line from Squirt 31, they opened up second floor front wall of the fire building and knocked down several pockets of fire.

Members of Rescue 22ís crew rotated duties on the porch roof, with some members entering the second floor of the fire building via the windows to perform inside overhaul work.

Dlabik Jr., meanwhile, worked with Brandmaier in the basement to secure the homeís utilities, while Commini used Rescue 22ís cascade system to refill about 18 SCBA bottles.

The fire was officially declared under control at 7:21 a.m.

Both the second and third floors of the home were destroyed by the blaze, while the first floor sustained major smoke and water damage.
The other side of the duplex, however, was saved from any major damage.

While rehabbing after operating in the fire building, Laird began to feel lightheaded and was escorted by Pierson to the EMS staging area. EMS personnel assessed Laird and ordered that he go to the hospital for additional treatment.

Ultimately, both he and Krandrac (who exhibited similar symptoms) were transported by ambulance to the emergency department of Capital Health System at Fuld hospital in Trenton.

Pierson accompanied Laird to the hospital as a precaution.

The remaining members of Rescue 22ís (after taking a much needed break and re-hydrating with water and Gatorade) went back in the fire building to assist with overhaul efforts.

Rescue 22 was released from the fireground at 9:12 a.m. to respond to an activated fire alarm at Lawrence Intermediate School that was reported at 9:10 a.m.

While Rescue 22 was enroute to the school, Telesquirt 22 arrived on scene and confirmed it was a false alarm. As a result, Rescue 22 was recalled and returned to Station 22 by 9:21 a.m.

All photos copyright (c) 2006 and courtesy of Raymond Krajcsovics.

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