Lesson In Awareness: D.C. Rear Tenement

You never know what to expect downtown on Side Charlie.


Near the intersection of South Dakota Avenue and Buchanan Street Northeast, between Engines 17 and 14, lies a duplex. What makes it different from the duplex next door is the addition on Side Charlie. Local news station WJLA recently reported that the owner of 4605 South Dakota Avenue has received criticism from his neighbors over the addition, which happens to be a former transit bus.

Despite the bickering over parked cars, property value and code enforcement, it is what it is – an addition, to another addition, to an existing dwelling that may house occupants. District law says the bus can be parked there but not used as an occupancy and the owner has said no one lives in the bus. Whether you believe him or not, the bus remains.

How would your department deal with this? In the District the second due engine company is responsible for the rear and would notice this in their sizeup report before beginning to check the basement. Who is responsible for the Side Charlie sizeup in your area?

Assuming you had no knowledge of this addition, and are first arriving, how would you communicate the discovery of the attached bus?

Would searching the bus be part of your primary search, depending on the fire conditions?

What additional resources would you anticipate needing on Side Charlie? Would you have any additional RIC considerations?

Would you expect the vehicles parked on the front yard to hinder the hoseline stretches and ladder placements on Side Alpha?

Given the method of construction of these additions, if a fire started in the rear, what would you expect of the fire’s behavior?

Times are hard and people do what they need to do to get by, legal or illegal. This may well include unorthodox housing. Get on the street and see what is happening in your first due area.

Be prepared.

References
South Dakota Avenue neighbors complain of bus used by neighbor, WJLA

Photo courtesy WJLA.com



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