The volunteers of Crew 3 and the LCFR career staff of Quint 624 took advantage of the springlike weather on Sunday. After morning shift change units were checked out and plans were made for breakfast. The first call of the day came just after breakfast, an EMS call for Engine 611. Not long after that Engine and Tower 611, along with Battalion Chief 601 (LCFR) responded to Dulles Airport for a structure fire. After units returned to the county Engines 611, 624, and 611, Tower 611, and Quint 624 (staffed by LCFR) spend midday in Sugarland. Substation 618 was filled with theatrical smoke and used for fire attack and search drills. After lunch Engine and Quint 624, and Chief 611, were dispatched for an auto accident with rollover. The rest of the evening brought dinner, the promotion of two members of Crew 3, and a handful of calls.
After spending the morning enjoying the improved weather with some outdoor training at a local elementary school, Crew 3 returned to their stations to begin the spring cleaning of the apparatus and station, focusing on the salt and sand buildup from weeks of winter weather. As that process was nearing completion a call was received from a citizen who had locked her keys and dog in her car. Tower 611, recent rescuer of two felines, responded non-emergency to the scene. The confined canine was quickly released and the Tower returned to service. During that same time Engine 618 was at a local warehouse store assisting with a child locked in an auto.
For the second time in as many months Crew 3 was called to rescue a cat who had climbed out of their comfort zone. Fortunately the temperatures were downright balmy compared to the last rescue where the apparatus doors were frozen shut. Tower 611 responded non-emergency to Countryside to assist the frightened feline. The one year old (the owner informed us it was her birthday) was well into the woods, so a ground ladder was the best option for rendering assistance. The firefighters carried a 28′ extension ladder through the woods and were able to deploy it to an almost perfect position. While one held the ladder in place the other ascended to the top and returned the cat to her grateful owner.
After a night of fire alarms, EMS calls, a broken water pipe at one of our stations, and a flyout as a result of an assault the volunteers from Engines 611, 618, 624, and Tower 611 had plans for breakfast and a training class on Saturday morning. As the units from 611 sat down to breakfast at a local restaurant all four units, along with Quint 624 (staffed by LCFR), Engine 404 (Fairfax – Herndon), Rescue and Medic 615 from Sterling Rescue, Battalion Chiefs 601, 603, EMS 601, Safety 600, and Fire Marshal 614, were alerted for a house fire in Sterling Park. Chief 611 responded, arrived first on scene, and reported a trash can on fire next to a house. The fire was quickly extinguished and responding units returned to service before most had arrived on scene. As Tower 611 returned to breakfast they were alerted, along with Engines 404 and 439 (Fairfax – Northpoint) and Battalion 601 (LCFR) for a dryer fire in Fairfax county. During the response the assignment was upgraded to a house fire, bringing Engine 611 from Sterling and the rest of the assignment from Fairfax. Tower 611 arrived on scene as the first truck and joined Engine 404 inside to perform a search, ventilate, and assist the engine by removing drywall to make sure that any hidden fire was extinguished. Engine 611 arrived as the third engine, so their assignment was to take a hose line to the rear of the structure and stand by in case they were needed. Battalion 601 was the first command officer on the scene and took over command from Engine 439. The fire was extinguished in a few minutes and crews began to pack up, as well as closing up the house and turning off the water to prevent further damage. During the two hours units from 611 were in Fairfax Engines 618 and 624 handled two EMS calls and a broken water pipe call.
As the temperatures dropped in the region the volunteers of Crew 3 were working to make sure that they could answer any emergency calls the night would bring. At one point the temperature was so low that the mechanism in the apparatus doors were frozen, resulting in doors that either wouldn’t open or doors that wouldn’t stay closed. As the evening wore on the phone at Station 618 rang. A citizen was calling for assistance in rescuing a frozen feline from a tree. Tower 611 responded and was able to encourage Samantha the cat to leave her lofty perch. The frozen tower crew returned to the station, standing ready should the citizens of Sterling need further assistance.
Early on Tuesday morning units from the Fairfax County Fire Rescue Department were dispatched for a townhouse fire in Reston. Engine 611 was soon called to fill North Point Station 439 while Engine, Squad, and Medic 439 were busy. When command requested a 2nd alarm Tower 611 was dispatched to the scene, along with Battalion 601 (staffed by SVFC). By the time the tower crew arrived on scene the situation was fairly stable. Battalion 601 was returned to service, and the Tower crew was assigned to check the neighboring townhouse. Finding that task already completed by Fairfax units the Tower crew returned to the command post and was released.
Just after 7pm, as Crew 3 was sitting down to dinner, Engines 618, 611, Tower 611, and Safety Officer 618 were alerted, along with Engine 622B and Truck 606 (Ashburn), Engine and Rescue Squad 439 (Fairfax – Northpoint), Ambulance 625B (Sterling Rescue), Deputy Chief 601 (Leesburg), and Battalion 603 and EMS 601 (LCFR), were alerted for a structure fire in a fast food restaurant. The caller advised a small fire outside the structure with smoke in the building. Engine 622B was already on the road and arrived just before Engine 618. Engine 618 found a fire in the walls with heavy smoke filling the structure and began fire attack with Engine 622B, assisted by the crew from Tower 611. Units from 606 went to the roof to see if the fire had spread that far. Command called for a Level 1 Rapid Intervention Team, standard procedure for a working fire, bringing more units from Fairfax, Ashburn, and Leesburg. The visible fire was quickly extinguished and crews began the process of ensuring that the fire was completely out. Due to the complex structure of the building, particularly the facade where the fire was located, this was a long and involved process. Canteen 611 was dispatched to the scene to provide refreshment for crews as they worked. Once the incident was stable command began releasing units, leaving about half on scene to finish up.
With the time change on Sunday morning the men and women of Crew 3 spent 38 hours on duty. They relieved the career staff at 6pm on Friday evening, beginning with unit check outs, dinner, and in-house training. They awoke Saturday morning with a busy day ahead. The first call of the day came in for Engine 611 just before 8:30am for what became a cardiac arrest. As they sat down to breakfast a short time later they were interrupted for an outside gas leak call. Construction crews ruptured an underground natural gas line, bringing Engine 611, Ambulance 623, Hazmat 619, and Battalion Chief 603. Meanwhile Engine 618 and Tower 611 were at a local seniors community assisting with their fire drills. This exercise gives Sterling Fire an opportunity to learn about the fire alarm systems in the buildings and become more familiar with the layout. As they were departing Tower 611 was dispatched, along with Engine 303 from Dulles Airport, for a fire alarm near the airport. Engines 611 and 618 spent lunchtime at a local shopping center raising funds as part of our Bucket Brigade fund raiser. Engine 618 joined Tower 611 for another fire alarm, this time at a local extended stay hotel. After returning to lunch Engine 618 was dispatched for a medical call along with Sterling Rescue. After arriving on scene they found a patient with a medical emergency on top of a hill and unable to get down safely. Tower 611 was dispatched to assist with bringing the patient down. After clearing that call all three units met up with Battalion 601 and units from Sterling Rescue to do a photo shoot at the soon to open Station 624 (Rescue Station 635), scheduled to open on Saturday, November 9th. After being out all day units finally returned to quarters to begin making dinner plans. All three units met again at Station 611 for dinner, more in-house training, and station cleaning. Tower 611 was dispatched at 8:45pm for a carbon monoxide detector sounding in a residence. at 11:40pm Engine, Tower, and Chief 611 were dispatched, along with Sterling Rescue and Engine 404 (Fairfax – Herndon) for a reported natural gas leak in a townhouse. Engines 611 and 618 were dispatched just before 1:30am Sunday morning, along with Sterling Rescue, to assist the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office with an auto accident. The final call for the shift came at 3:23am, a fire alarm for Engine 618. Crew 5 relieved the weary Crew 3 at 7am on Sunday.
Crew 3 started a 23 hour shift at 0700 on Sunday morning. Over the next 23 hours they would respond to 5 EMS calls, including two cardiac arrests, two auto accidents, and two reported structure fires at Dulles Airport. During that time they also had one firefighter successfully pass his test for promotion to engine driver (the last big step in a multi-month multi-step process), collected money for our ongoing “Bucket Brigade” fundraiser, and spent a few hours at a local business’ fall festival.
One of the auto accidents involved three vehicles. When Engine 611 arrived on scene they found one car on fire and a second car with occupants still trapped in the vehicle. They extinguished the fire while Engine 618, arriving next, began removing two patients from the 2nd vehicle.
Photo by: Charles Frey
At 8:43pm on Wednesday as the volunteers of Crew 3 were applying wax to Tower 611 as part of the annual preparation for open house, Engine, Tower, and Chief 611, and Safety Officer 618 were alerted, along with a Medic from Sterling Rescue and units from Fairfax Station 404 in Herndon, for an inside gas leak in a local hotel. Engine 618 was at station 611 and responded in place of Engine 404. Engine 611 arrived and established command and began investigating with the crew from Tower 611. During the investigation an odor of gasoline was reported in the rear parking lot. Further investigation revealed gasoline in the sewer system. Chief 611, who had assumed command on his arrival, requested a full hazmat response, bringing Hazmat, Hazmat Support, and Tower 619 (South Riding), Engine and Medic 404 (Herndon), Engine and Tower 436 (Frying Pan) Rescue 439 (North Pointe), and Battalions 601 and 603 from Loudoun. In this case many of these resources ended up not being needed, but until everything is rendered safe a large number of resources are on hand to deal with any issues that arrive. Canteen 611 was dispatched to provide food and water for what could turn into an extended time on scene. Units began preparation for the hazmat investigation, began moving occupants across the street, and searched the building to ensure that everybody was out. Once Hazmat 619 arrived a plan was put in place, and further investigation revealed no additional hazards. After a careful process lasting almost 3 hours the original gasoline spill had been mitigated, units returned to service, and guests and staff returned to the hotel.