City of Jacksonville


December Incidents 2004

The Christmas Holiday season will soon be upon us all but for the Department it's 'business as usual,' as public safety issues never take time off, not even for the most festive of occasions. This is why it should come as no surprise that the groundbreaking ceremony for Fire Station #57, located near West Beaver and Hutchinson and scheduled for Monday, December 13th at noon, will take place shortly before the holidays. Additionally, the Department welcomed a new recruit class on Monday, December 6th, at Headquarters on Julia Street. In the middle of these few activities the Department continues with ongoing preparations for the Super Bowl, both administrative and organizational, along with training sessions that certainly have overtones with the aforementioned subject matter. Specifically, the High Angle Rescue Team activity at Alltel Stadium during the first week of December was quite impressive to behold and garnered much media interest as well.

The situation involving our injured firefighter, as mentioned in the previous November post, has thankfully improved quite substantially and the recuperation phase has finally moved into a more positive realm. The entire Department would certainly like to express the gratitude felt by everyone for those who helped the family in so many ways during this trying time.

With the 'cold snap' arriving in town beginning Tuesday, December 14th, the need to remind all citizens of the importance of having a working smoke detector is once again an imperative. The correct phone number to register for the life-saving device is 630-7842. The recorded message will prompt callers to provide pertinent information, with Fire Prevention to subsequently follow-up with call-back activity and corresponding free installation.

Despite the well-documented cold snap brought on by an 'arctic air mass' that descended upon our fair city during mid-December, the calls for structure fires due to space heaters/fireplaces and other closely related items were relatively subdued. One suspicious fire, occurring on Bird Street in Fire 8's district in the late evening hours to a mobile home (actually termed 'manufactured home' these days) on Wednesday, December 15th, was followed by a near tragic W3 single family structure fire early Thursday morning, December 16th, at 1608 East 11th and Jones. 'Near tragic' is the terminology utilized, as the fire was caused by a 3 year old playing with lighter in the bedroom. Thankfully the aunt, at the time staying with the child, alertly grabbed the child and immediately left the house upon discovering the fire. Unfortunately 9 young puppies did not survive the ordeal and the house, despite being a concrete block construction, did suffer heavy damage necessitating the assistance from the American Red Cross for the displaced homeowners. The young renters lost virtually everything, certainly a tragedy this close to Christmas, but thankfully there wasn't a single serious injury to report. The aunt did suffer some smoke inhalation and one probationary firefighter experienced 2nd degree burns and blistering along the neck and ears, but all in all a safe evolution that could have been much worse. Perhaps the irony of the story is that with the citywide focus on cold weather and corresponding dangers affiliated with attempts made by citizens to 'stay warm,' the typical firestarter scenario involving a child with a lighter resulted in the most 'significant' house fire during the city's cold snap. Another poignant reminder as to the need for parents to teach their children about the dangers of lighters and matches and to make sure that these items are always placed safely out of reach. Space heater and other similarly related fires may occur only during prolonged cold spells in our city, but careless children with matches and lighters can cause fires any time of the year, independent of weather conditions.