Worcester: Reinforcing Lessons Learned

Flames breaks through the roof of the Blackstone Valley Visitors Center, 123 McKeon Road during a 3-alarm blaze Monday March 22, 2010. (Rick Cinclair / T&G Staff Photo) Worcester Telegram & Gazette <strong>Note the vacant building placard in the lower right corner</strong>.

Flames breaks through the roof of the Blackstone Valley Visitors Center, 123 McKeon Road during a 3-alarm blaze Monday March 22, 2010. (Rick Cinclair / T&G Staff Photo) Worcester Telegram & Gazette Note the vacant building placard in the lower right corner.

On Monday a three-alarm fire broke out at a vacant Worcester Massachusetts factory complex. The blaze burned through the night and into Tuesday morning before being fully extinguished. Noteworthy of the incident is the fact the no firefighters were seriously injured during operations. On December 3, 1999 the Worcester Fire Department lost six men while battling a fire in a vacant building. The initial efforts to go inside were based on the assumption that the structure might be inhabited by vagrants. One of the many recommendations that followed the tragedy was to implement a vacant building marking system to alert firefighters of specific building conditions and dangers. Eleven years later the recommendation still has value. The former Washburn & Moen factory, owned and maintained by the city, was in the process of being redesigned as a visitor center by a four-way partnership. Despite the city’s effort to keep the building secure, human behavior is implied as being the most probable cause.

Take the time to find out if your municipality has a listing of vacant and abandoned properties. Use recommended marking systems to warn your firefighters of the dangers inside these buildings. Vacant buildings generally don’t spontaneously ignite. Most of the time it requires human initiative, either criminal such as arson, or well-intentioned such as a warming barrel. Identifying and labeling the hazards will help to refine your initial strategy and primary search.

Related
Visitor Center Blaze Ruled Arson, Worcester Telegram and Gazette
Firefighters Battle Blaze at Worcester Building, WHDH
X-rated Firefighting Carey, Backstep
The Triangle of Solid Standard Operating Procedures, LeBlanc, Backstep
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After Tuesday, the only thing going good for Buchholz is that Dice-K is laid up.

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1 Comment

  • Ron Ayotte says:

    The placard on the corner of the building indicates limited interior operations if conditions warrant. In this case, conditions didn’t allow for that.

    Massachusetts enacted building marking in the state’s fire prevention regulations after the W6 fire.

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Comments
Ron Ayotte
“FEAR” by Ric Jorge
Ric, excellent article. Your FD is not the only one that suffers from TAS (Training Anxiety Syndrome). Same circus, different community. As far as seeking help from an EAP, I did take advantage of my community's EAP 8 years into my career. I was heading down the road to a separation/divorce after I got promoted…
2014-12-04 16:04:47
Mike McAdams
Who Looks After The Victims?
Captain LeBlanc, Great point in the blog debating the new and old techniques and how to blend them into that first minutes on the fire ground. One of the first points stated was “Unless they know your manpower, resources and abilities, and are standing in that front lawn at 2:00 a.m., all they can do…
2014-12-02 14:45:23
Ruel Douvillier
Who Looks After The Victims?
I suspect these new tactics are all related to the NFPA standard that came out a few years ago recommending higher manpower on apparatus than the authorities having jurisdiction were prepared to implement. For the 30+ years that I've been fighting fires, UL and NIST have been using the data that they gained by setting…
2014-12-02 11:48:44
Joseph carroll
Who Looks After The Victims?
I work in a dept with 2 man Engine cos, man powers is an issue with our first due assignment. (3 engs,2 Trks , Batt Chief). Usually 13 Firefighters on the assignment. At times the exterior attack has no option, heavy fire too include exposures etc. some new leaders feel that this exterior attack is…
2014-12-01 19:05:51
Brian
Who Looks After The Victims?
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2014-12-01 02:10:06
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