Extreme temperatures and ample snow cover have provided significant challenges to firefighters responding to, and combating, numerous structure fires in the Newton Abbott response area this winter.
On January 19th, our members were performing annual re-certification in the use of SCBA (Self Contained Breathing Apparatus) when a garage fire was reported in the town of Orchard Park. Newton Abbott RIT was called to provide support to the Orchard Park members, identifying and mitigating safety threats, and standing by in the event of a need to rescue any firefighters. As it happened, one wall of the one-story unattached brick garage, which was heavily involved with fire, did collapse outwardly in the direction of an engine crew. The team had conscientiously recognized the potential threat prior to the structural failure, and were operating just outside of the collapse zone.
On February 16th, Newton Abbott RIT responded to a reported structure fire, again in Orchard Park, at a large apartment building on Green Lake. The fire, which began on the first-floor garage, spread to all apartments in the building, which was a total loss. Conditions were severe, as temperatures dipped below zero degrees. Firefighters spent brief shifts inside an NFTA bus which had been obtained as a warming station. No occupants or firefighters were injured, though there were several close calls due to collapsing floors, and a dog did sadly perish in the smoke.
February 24th saw another residential fire in Orchard Park. Newton Abbott RIT responded to the operation at the single-family residence.