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Md. fire station catches on fire

Dan Morse

Three Montgomery County firefighters had just finished lunch Monday when their lieutenant approached with alarming instructions: Part of the station was on fire. Find it.

Things turned out OK. No one was hurt. A sprinkler system kept the blaze -- inside a basement maintenance room -- from getting out of hand.

Still, to extinguish the fire, the firefighters had to drive one of their own trucks out of the firehouse, park it, extend a hose back into the building and douse the fire for about 30 seconds, officials said. The fire burned a table, boxes and paramedic's supplies for a total loss tabbed of at least $5,000.

Fire "can definitely happen anywhere," said Montgomery fire department spokesman Oscar Garcia.

In this case, "anywhere" was Montgomery's Fire Station 21, near the corner of Veirs Mill Road and Parkland Drive. Construction workers are renovating the station. Monday afternoon, they were using a blow torch to remove an outside metal staircase in the back of the station, about 15 feet off the ground.

A spark appears to have made its way through a hole in the wall and descended into a former truck maintenance bay that is now largely used for storage, according to fire officials. One of the sparks landed on a table that held cardboard boxes, old cans of paint and rags, and caught on fire, Garcia said.

Several things then happened around the same time. The construction workers noticed the fire, and came around the front of the station as Lt. Jason Giza was returning from another call. "There's a fire," one of them said, according to Giza.

Giza could also hear a “water gong” signal, indicating the sprinklers had activated, and went to alert his colleagues.

The irony of a firehouse being on fire was hardly lost on Giza, but he said on Tuesday that je and the firefighters reacted as they would any blaze -- going into suppression mode. "It's what we do," he said.

Through the glazed windows of the maintenance bay, the firefighters could see flames. They had to use a sledgehammer to bust through the bay's tough-to-break safety glass. Smoke filled much of the room. Flames extended from the table to the ceiling.

The fire was large enough that Giza had called for additional trucks from nearby stations, but by the time they arrived the fire was out.

-- Dan Morse

By Dan Morse  |  January 13, 2010; 6:37 AM ET
Categories:  Dan Morse , Fires & Fire Safety , Montgomery  
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Poor / Negligent work procedures:
First : when using a cutting torch > correct procedure is to have someone on the other side of the thing being cut to insure the torch does not set "stuff" on fire

#2: Where was the fire dept paint locker?? surely professional fire fighters know the volitility of paint > and it is stored properly [in a paint locker] to prevent it from being ignited.. same with the rags...

poor procedures all the way around... = poor leadership

Posted by: kglkgl06 | January 13, 2010 8:43 AM | Report abuse

the fire marshall needs to inspect all the fire stations...

Posted by: californicationdude | January 13, 2010 11:42 AM | Report abuse

MoCo Fireman 1: I think there's a gas leak.
MoCo Fireman 2: Here, let me light a match so we can see better.

Posted by: CubsFan | January 13, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

"...bust through the bay's tough-to-break safety glass." Bust? Break, smash, crash, and so on. I might be a bit of a grammar snob, but is it necessary to resort to slang?

My son recently asked me who the fire department calls when they have a fire in the fire station. I thought that was a pretty good question, now I know the answer! I imagine that the men of station 21 are going to be getting a fair amount of grief from their fellow fire fighters. I'm grateful that the damage was minimal and no fire fighters were hurt.

Posted by: CVMA1714 | January 13, 2010 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Kglkgl06 you are the classic armchair quarterback. The firefighters were not doing any welding. It was an outside contractor that the firefighters pay no attention to.

Posted by: MKadyman | January 13, 2010 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Fire in a firestation, how stupid is that, thought they were supposed to be the most trained on fire prevention. This is hillarious! :)

Posted by: NVRHME | January 13, 2010 5:11 PM | Report abuse

This reminds me of the time when the Laytonsville, Md (also in Mont. co) fire house burned down. This was in the 70s I believe.

Posted by: sidehillman | January 14, 2010 7:39 AM | Report abuse

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