Great work from a great group

Published 8:49 pm Monday, November 24, 2014

From their lickety-split quick response to their choice of firefighting tools, it would seem that Suffolk’s emergency responders did pretty much everything right on Sunday, when they responded to a two-alarm fire in the fourth floor of the seven-story Suffolk Towers apartment building.

Two minutes after dispatchers had received the call reporting the fire, firefighters were on the scene, assessing the situation. They quickly noted heavy smoke on the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh floors of the building, and they immediately made the decision to begin evacuating the apartments of their 61 residents.

It didn’t take them long to realize the fire was in an electrical panel on the fourth floor. The decision they made at that point — to fight the fire with chemicals and carbon dioxide, instead of water, is one that will mean a world of difference to the apartments’ residents and to the building’s owners. No water damage, light smoke damage and fried electrical panels on three of the structure’s floors represented the extent of the damage.

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Even better than that, there were no injuries in either the fire or the evacuation. One man in his 40s was rescued from his seventh-floor apartment by a ladder extended to his window from one of the fire trucks on the scene. He was medically evaluated on the ground and then released. Another woman was carried down the stairs and out of the building in a rescue chair.

And after they had been evacuated, victims of the fire found a community standing with arms open and ready to embrace them. Three local churches, two nearby businesses and a couple of city departments all got involved, along with the American Red Cross, in the effort to provide support, food and housing during the time the building is shut down for electrical repairs. The building could reopen for its residents as soon as Dec. 1

One needn’t have an especially rich imagination to envision a situation that could have been far worse for everyone involved.

The fine men and women in Suffolk’s fire departments, the ones on its rescue squads, the ones wearing its police uniforms and those who serve the city on its public works and community development departments have great reason to be proud of their work on Sunday. It’s very likely that without their quick, professional response, the news about the Suffolk Towers fire today would be far more somber.