Main Content


Firefighters Narrowly Escapes Flash Over in Menands

avatar image
August 14, 2022 | NEW YORK JEFFREY BELSCHWINDER, Senior Correspondent
This article is a direct street report from our correspondent and has not been edited by the 1st Responder newsroom.

MENANDS, NY - On August 14th at 6:45 P.M., the Menands, Maplewood, Watervliet Arsenal, Schuyler Heights, Shaker Road, West Albany and Latham Fire Departments, along with the Boght Community Fire Co. and Colonie EMS, were dispatched to Five Park Lane West for multiple calls reporting a structure fire.

First arriving police department units on scene immediately notified the dispatcher that they had a working structure fire with heavy smoke pushing from the building. Shaker Road Car 53 and 51 arrived on scene along with Menands Car 36 and 37, and command quickly transmitted a Signal 30 for a working structure fire. Command was then met by a frantic woman who reported that there were three unaccounted for children still inside the structure. Command relayed the info to the dispatcher and stations immediately began to answer up the call and race to the scene.

Despite this being a fire chief's worst nightmare of a report of three children still trapped inside a structure with heavy smoke showing, command remained calm. Police officers on scene began to yell into the windows of the home to try to get the young children to come to them, but they were pushed back by the heavy black smoke and heat. With no engines on scene yet, one chief took outside command and two other chiefs made the decision to make entry to the apartment and attempted to make a search without a hand line in place. The chiefs, knowing that this was a life-or-death situation for the young children reported to be inside, made the decision to push into the building. With heavy smoke pushing from all of the windows and significant amounts of heat pushing from the side of the structure, the chiefs made entry to the building and began to search the apartment.

With all units hearing the radio traffic on scene, fire apparatus began racing to the scene. Rescue 6 arrived on scene and firefighters deployed a single hand line to the front of the structure as additional firefighters jumped into the apartment window and began to search for the three children. As firefighters were making the push inside the structure, conditions inside were rapidly changing as the heat began to push them to the floor of the apartment, and the smoke became extremely turbulent. Firefighters noticed the rapid changes and made their way back towards the window that they made entry through.

Firefighters began climbing out of the apartment's basement window. One chief made it out safely, but as the other chief was climbing out, the entire apartment flashed over. All searching units made it out of the building just in the nick of time. The firefighter on the hand line immediately blew water into the structure, knocking down the heavy fire condition coming from the window.

Additional crews began arriving on scene and as apparatus pulled down the roadway, firefighters were jumping from their engine and rescue company at the main roadway, running at a full sprint past the apparatus pulling up. Those firefighters, with tools in hand, made it to the front door of the building and immediately donned their face masks, went on air and made entry to the apartment to again search for the three children reported to still be inside the building. Firefighters from the next arriving engine deployed a one-and-three-quarter inch hand line to the front door of the structure. The fire chief who had his helmet caught in the flash over removed his coat and immediately began to help stretch and flake out the garden lay. Firefighters made entry and began to knock down all remaining fire.

After speaking with the woman who initially told first responders that there were three children still inside the structure, command and police learned that the children were actually in Brooklyn and not home at the time of the fire. Crews inside the structure conducted a primary and secondary search of the apartment, both of which turned up negative. The fire was brought under control in about 15 minutes, and firefighters inside the structure conducted aggressive overhaul for over one hour. With products in the home being more flammable than ever, firefighters had only seconds to make decisions instead of minutes.

With this being one of the most stressful calls firefighters can get, crews on scene handled it professionally and were willing to risk their own lives to make entry for the children reportedly trapped inside.

Fire investigators are still working to determine the cause of the fire. No injuries were reported, and firefighters went back in to service a few hours later. The Red Cross was contacted for multiple residents displaced from the apartment building.

avatar image

No information from the author.