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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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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“To provide a point of critical thought about certain acts and events in the fire service while incorporating behavioral education and commentary in a referenced format.”

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Comments
Jeff chandler
44.7 Percent
Very good explanation! I have been known to have the same rant.
2015-01-17 03:58:59
Anthony Correia
44.7 Percent
Dave i agree with your whole post. However the one thing I'm not experiencing or seeing is the over safetyifcation. While i hear words spoke about being safe when possible, but not sacrificing service for safety. If anything, i see firefighters more aggressive than when i started many years back due to the increased protection…
2015-01-14 14:37:28
Jon Newton
44.7 Percent
Well done. You make some awesome points. In regards to the "numbers".....(and kind of backing up your thought of changing tactics), we have often wondered why there is so much emphasis on RIT and the RIT/Industrial complex. I'm on Chicago and have worked in the Chicago Suburbs for almost 20 years. We've seen the advent…
2015-01-14 04:15:23
Marshall Sampietro
44.7 Percent
spot on....
2015-01-02 14:43:50
Ron Ayotte
44.7 Percent
“Over safetyification”... Dave, that is the best description of what those who want to prevent us from doing the job want to do to the job.
2014-12-31 16:29:29
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