101 Things the Fire Department wishes you knew



Monday, January 5

You Make the Call...Building Alarm...What Happened

First, get up to speed on the situation and comments HERE.

So what did I do in this particular situation?

The engine driver and I agreed that the combination of building alarm and a man screaming about water everywhere likely meant a sprinkler has discharged, but was it broken off or putting out a fire?

I grabbed a portable radio, pump can and hose bundle and went in search of the man from earlier. One of the guys from the Ladder came with me and brought his standard gear as well. Wandering around the walkways between the shops we began to notice water pooling in some areas. As we came around a corner into an interior courtyard, we found the source. An upscale restaurant had a steady stream of water coming out the double doors and there is the screaming man and half a dozen employees running around inside.
The Ladderman retreats to gather the rest of the crew and the sprinkler kit while I investigate the source. A curiously placed sprinkler is very close to the large open fire pit they use to cook and is discharging water not only into the kitchen, but is flowing onto the beautiful wood floors. Random employees are taking turns trying to use napkins to redirect the water away from the tables and back into the tiled kitchen. I sigh, drop my gear and grab a table cloth from a nearby pile and enlist another tall fellow to help. We create a decent wall/water chute that stops the water from escaping the kitchen and hold it long enough for the ladder crew to get the sprinkler kit and cap the head.
Turns out the new kitchen staff, after 2 AM closing, decided to burn off the grill instead of simply cleaning it. They stoked the fire so hot it broke the sprinkler, as designed, but it was so close to the fire pit I think the pit was added without a reinspection.

As the ladder was cleaning up the water the Chief and engine officer walked in stating they found the alarm panel in the basement behind a number of locked doors and it indicated a water flow in a different part of the building, but they've been around and found nothing else.

Splitting the team and going "rogue" is never suggested at a fire scene and can even get folks hurt. In this situation, with nothing showing and no cell phone calls as to a fire, I thought it best to at least see where the water was coming from. Had we waited for the officer and Chief to return to the access point instead of investigating there could have been 1000's of gallons of additional water spilling into the fancy restaurant. Look what happened at this event in Northern CA.
It was the report at FireGeezer that got my memory turning on this one.

If you said investigate the source of water, safely, you made the right call.

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