OCTOBER 30, 2001
29 Ontario Way, Lawrence Township
At 11:56 a.m. on Tuesday, October 30, 2001, volunteers from both Slackwood and Lawrence Road fire companies were dispatched by Lawrence Control to investigate a reported smoke condition inside the home at 29 Ontario Way.
One minute later, at 11:57 a.m., Telesquirt 23 from Lawrenceville Fire Co. was dispatched as part of an automatic upgrade to the full first alarm on Box 21-01 by Mercer County Central Communications Center. At 11:58 a.m., Prospect Heights Fire Co. was toned out for Ladder Tower 31 to respond as part of that upgrade.
Engine 21-1 and Engine 22 both responded at 11:58 a.m. Engine 22 was driven by Paid Driver Robert Santello and commanded by Ff. Shaun Dlabik, with a crew that included Ff. Joseph Dlabik Jr. and Ff. Chris Dlabik.
Telesquirt 23 signed on radio at 11:59 a.m., followed a minute later, at noon, by Rescue 22. Rescue 22 responded with Ff. Steve Amiott driving and Ff. Michael Ratcliffe in command, with Ff. Ed Budzinski and Ff. Michael Byrd as the crew.
Engine 21-1 arrived on scene at 12 p.m. and reported there was nothing showing from the residence, a two-story single family dwelling. But then, Engine 21-1s crew entered the home and, at 12:02 p.m., reported that there was a heavy smoke condition inside with a fire burning inside the rear wall.
At 12:02 p.m., following Engine 21-1s report of a working fire, Mercer County Central dispatched Rescue 32 from Pennington Road Fire Co. as a FAST Team.
Firefighters quickly learned that residents of the house had apparently tossed ashes from their fireplace outside next to the rear wall. The ashes, still hot, ignited some nearby mulch and that in turn allowed flames to burn into the rear wall of the dwelling.
Engine 21-1s crew immediately hauled a 1.75-inch hoseline into the house, and also radioed instructions for the next-due apparatus, Engine 22, to establish a water supply.
Engine 22 and Rescue 22 both reached the scene at 12:03 p.m. Engine 22s crew, assisted by Squad 129 EMTs Rick Evans and Marc Peloquin, tied into a hydrant on Ontario Way and hand-stretched 300 feet of 5-inch supply hose to Engine 21-1.
Rescue 22s crew, meanwhile, stretched a backup 1.75-inch line from Engine 21-1 to the second floor of the house. The line was never charged, however, as the firefighters, using Rescue 22s thermal imaging camera, found no fire extension in the second-floor walls.
After laying the supply line, Engine 22s crew proceeded into the home to help Engine 21-1s crew, which had cut into the first-floor wall and was, by then, in the process of hosing down the area that had been on fire.
At 12:04 p.m., Snorkel 21 arrived on the scene. (The snorkels responding time was never recorded) and the crew entered the house to assist where needed.
Telesquirt 23 arrived on scene at 12:09 p.m., Ladder Tower 31 (which signed on radio at 12:04 p.m.) arrived at 12:11 p.m. and Rescue 32 (which signed on radio at 12:08 p.m.) arrived at 12:15 p.m. Their crews were ordered to remain outside as relief manpower and as the FAST Team.
Slackwood Capt. Joe Macheda, who arrived on Snorkel 21 and took command of the incident, declared the fire under control at 12:14 p.m.
The blaze was contained to the first-floor wall by the Slackwood firefighters, and Lawrence Road firefighters, using their thermal imager, confirmed there was no extension to the second floor or hot spots remaining on the first floor.
Ladder Tower 31 and Rescue 32 were both released from the scene at 12:36 p.m.
After helping Engine 22s crew repack the 5-inch supply hose on to the engine, Rescue 22s crew was released. Rescue 22 left the scene, along with Telesquirt 23, at 12:44 p.m. Rescue 22 was back in quarters at Station 22 by 12:48 p.m.
Engine 22 remained on location a little while longer to finish helping Station 21 personnel. Engine 22 cleared the scene at 12:59 p.m. and was back at Station 22 by 1:05 p.m. (Engine 21-1 finally cleared the scene by 1:34 p.m.)
(During the incident, Slackwoods firehouse was covered up by Engine 14-1 from Hamilton Fire Co., while Ladder Tower 33 from West Trenton Fire Co. stood by at Lawrence Roads firehouse.)