July 12, 2008
Just before 12pm Schuylkill County Communications Center dispatched the Schuylkill Haven Fire Department to 401 University Drive, North Manheim Twp. for a reported structure fire. The address was given as the "old nursing home", but to the people in the county, and more importantly to members of the fire department, it's know as "The 1912 Building".
Duty Chief 720 went responding within minutes and Comm Center said they had several calls on this, and it was possible that it was just trash burning to the rear of the building. As Chief 720 (Peel) arrived on scene, along with Engines 732, 737, and Ladder 725 there was heavy smoke from the rear, as well as from the front of the building. Engine 732 went to the rear of the building to knock down the fire around back while Engine 737 "hooked" the hydrant to feed 732, as the crew from 737 gained entry to the front of the building. The crew from Ladder 725 set up and utilized the stick cutting vent holes to the front of the building, almost right away!! As each of the crews did their primary search of the building, and reported to Command 720, it was found that there was numerous parts of the building involved, prompting Command to "Tap the 2nd alarm". The 2nd alarm Commercial Structure Fire brought in: Ladder 51 (Pottsville), Pottsville R.I.T., Engine 56-10 (Orwigsburg), Engine 47-10 (Landingville), Engine 34-15 (Summit Station). Within minutes of the 2nd alarm arriving on the scene, each of the apparatus was being used as well as the manpower from their respective companies.
However, do to the over all building conditions and the temperature, Chief Peel decided to hit for a 3rd Alarm. The 3rd Alarm Commercial Structure Fire brought in: Tower 519 (Minersville), Engine 369 for R.I.T. (Englewood), Tower 456 (Mahanoy City), as well as Rescue 993 for R.I.T. (Mahanoy City). As the condition of building worsened, it was decided to go into defensive mode to hit the fire, triggering a master stream attack from all engines and/or ladders surrounding the building. This caused a very drastic problem with water pressure that was being taken from the hydrants from around the entire complex. It was then decided to activate a "Tanker Task Force". Bringing in: District 42 (Deer Lake), District 39 (Auburn), Disctrict 3 (Llewellyn), District 55 (New Ringgold), and District 34, Station 1 (Friedensburg).
And for a special request Chief 720 asked to have Berks County, Aerial 61 (Hamburg) also brought to the scene as well as Schuylkill Valley EMS for their Rehab Unit. While all the crews were being used at the fire scene it was decided to have move-up assignments for Schuylkill Haven Boro, which brought in: District 58 (Pine Grove HH&L) which stood by at the Schuylkill Hose, and District 41, Station 1 (Cressona #1) which stood by at the Liberty Fire Co.