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Troy Firefighters Rescue Dog and Cat from Two-Alarm Fire on River Street

This article is a direct street report from our correspondent and has not been edited by the 1st Responder newsroom.

TROY, NY - On January 18th at 4:35 P.M., the city of Troy's Fire Department was dispatched to 572 River Street on the second-floor for a reported structure fire. The dispatchers at the Rensselaer County Emergency Communication Center were taking multiple calls on the fire. Engines 4, 1 and 6, the rescue squad, Medic 4 and the battalion chief responded to the scene. Engine 2 and Truck 1 were once again out of service while handling emergency medical calls in the city of Troy, leaving the only engine in the whole city in service being Engine 3. Medic 4's crew quickly loaded the stretcher into the medic rig at the hospital and called en route to the fire scene.

Engine 4 and the battalion chief arrived on scene and had heavy smoke showing from a three-story structure with exposure issues on the 'Delta' side. The rescue squad notified the dispatcher that they were responding to the box delayed and leaving their other call. Command notified Engine 4 as they were deploying a one-and-three-quarter-inch hand line to the second-floor that they had significant smoke pushing from the second and third floor north side of the building. Command notified the dispatcher that all of the occupants had made it out of the structure. Command went to have Engine 2 come in from the north side of the structure not knowing the engine was not in service and on a medical call, Engine 2’s crew notified command that they were at the hospital with the medic rig unable to respond and command checked with the dispatcher to see if Truck 1 was responding to the scene, but the firefighters from Truck 1 were on a medical call also held up at the hospital and not available for the call. With command already down five essential firefighters to help battle the fire, the second-alarm was transmitted, bringing the city of Watervliet’s Fire Department and the Watervliet Arsenal Fire Department to the scene for manpower.

Firefighters made a push up to the second-floor of the house and firefighters from the rescue squad pulled up on scene and joined the firefighters inside of the building to begin a primary search to make sure everybody was accounted for. As firefighters were doing so, they discovered a dog inside of the house and rescued it from the house. As firefighters were searching a bathroom upstairs, they also discovered a cat and brought it outside.

Firefighters made an aggressive interior attack, quickly driving back the fire. With Medic 2's crew quickly racing back to station from the hospital, they pulled into the station within a few minutes and jumped from the medic rig onto Engine 2 and raced to the scene. Medic 1 turned over their patient at Albany Medical Center and raced back to station one from the City of Albany to get the other truck company as the engine crews on scene were short on manpower. Firefighters deployed a supply line to the nearby fire hydrant and established a water supply for the scene.

Mutual aid quickly began to arrive on scene as firefighters continued to knock down the fire condition on the second-floor and worked to check the third-floor for extension. Command requested the Red Cross to the scene for the individuals from the house. The dog that was rescued from the house fire was transported to the emergency veterinary clinic from the scene. Firefighters from the truck company opened up the area in the cockloft and notified command that they had no fire, but a significant amount of smoke and they would need significant ventilation. Firefighters on the fire floor began to conduct heavy amounts of overhaul to the apartment. Command requested code enforcement to the scene. Firefighters continued to work overhauling the fire floor for an extended period of time as the investigators worked to determine the cause of the fire. Medic 1's crew arrived at the station and placed the truck company into service. Firefighters from Watervliet Arsenal went back into service and remained in the city of Troy to handle emergency calls while firefighters were operating on scene. No injuries were reported, and firefighters went back into service later that evening. The cause of the fire has not yet been released.

This is the second fire in a week where firefighters that were on cross staffed rigs with the ambulance were out at the hospital or on other calls when fires have erupted in the city and were needed on scene. The city of Troy currently has one full-time ambulance which is medic four out of Central Station. Medic three is only operated daily 8 AM to 8 PM with medic two cross staffed by the firefighters of engine two. When medic two is taking a medical call and engine two goes out of service and fire protection in those areas are significantly delayed like the 8 Birch Street fire. Truck one’s firefighter/ paramedics cross staff medic one. When there is a EMS call in Lansingburgh the only truck company that is in charge of venting the building of super-heated toxic gases, conducting forcible entry to the building, and searching for victims during the fire goes out of service. While this happens, it reduces the number of available firefighters on scene to be able to quickly bring the fire under control. This has been an ongoing problem for many years. During a fire the city goes down to one engine available to handle any call that comes in. One EMS call completely takes the city of Troy’s fire and Emergency Medical Services offline when a fire is going on in the City of Troy. The city of Troy also relies heavily during these situations where they are battling a fire in the city to have commercial ambulances that are not always readily available as they have paid contracts with other cities and mutual aid ambulances that have the responsibility to protect and serve their own communities.

Staffing in the city of Troy on a day-to-day bases is currently only 24 firefighter/paramedics to cover a city with a population over 50,000 residents with a significant call volume close to 15,000 calls a year and close to 100 fires a year. A significant amount of the city of Troy’s emergency medical calls are caused by nursing homes within the city of Troy that do not utilize a private ambulance service, but abuse the emergency medical system in the city of Troy to avoid the cost of having a contract with a commercial EMS agency. With forty firefighters with more than twenty years' experience each retiring from the Troy Fire Department over the last few years, the City of Troy was only able to hire seventeen firefighters to replace those who are leaving. The forty firefighters do not include the firefighters that have transferred to other cities that have higher pay, cheaper health insurance, and less call volume. The current mayor is waiting for the emergency services study to finish up before making any decisions to move forward with the Fire Department’s staffing levels and emergency service's needs. The study will most likely show that all of the ambulances in the city of Troy will need to be staffed full-time to handle the call volume and a truck company will need to be added to the Eastside of the City of Troy as the city of Troy has drastically grown over the last few years adding multiple new large apartment buildings. Firefighters in the Troy Fire Department are still waiting to find out if they are ever going to get a new fire station in Lansingburgh as the station as conditions are not the best inside the fifty plus year old station that only had a thirty-year life span.

Other fire departments around the Capital Region are hosting firefighter's exams in order to gather the best candidates for their cities and the city of Troy this year is not conducting a new firefighter exam in 2024. Which will leave the City of Troy behind the ball again as other cities pick up great candidates.  Back in the day there was over four hundred people competing to take the civil service exam to become a firefighter and now there’s barely a hundred people taking the exam. At this time more retirements of senior firefighters in the city of Troy are coming and soon and the city will need to hire the largest number of firefighters it has ever needed to hire in the coming year or two.

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