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Residents escape fire thanks to smoke detector


All safety measures were in place on Feb. 21 for an Apple Lane family preventing a tragedy on a frigid night.

As smoke began to fill the home, the smoke alarms sounded awakening the residents.

At 2:14 a.m., radios for East Meadow's Engine 1, 2, and Ladders 1, and 2, alerted bringing volunteers out of bed and to their feet, with the announcement of a deck fire at a home on Apple Lane.

Within one minute of the alarm, Chief of Department Eric Beck radioed his response. He was immediately followed by his Asst Chiefs Paul Kosiba, and Peter Cheswick.

As firefighters geared up and boarded the rigs at Stations 1, 2, and 3, additional information came over the radio that the homeowner was attempting to extinguish the fire.

At 2:19 a.m., Engine 612 radioed their response. They would be "first in.”

Arriving on scene, Chief Becker established EMFD's Incident Command Post, sized up the incident, laying out his plan, and soon radioing for Engine 612 to connect to a hydrant.

Taking no chances as heavier smoke now emanated from the home, Chief Becker requested a special call for Engine 3, Engine 4, and Rescue 5 to respond to the scene.

In quick succession Ladder 617, Engine 611, Heavy Rescue 616, and Ladder 619 arrived on the scene and the battle was on.

Based on information during the response, firefighters originally believed this was a deck fire with extension into the home. Soon after arrival, firefighter reports to command announced, "fire in the basement".

With a simultaneous attack in the basement and exterior deck, firefighters from Engines 1, and 2, were able to snuff out all visible fire in minutes, as crews from Ladders 1, and 2, pulled ceilings, walls, and soffits inside, and saw cut areas of the wooden deck outside.

Rescue 5 established a medical treatment area for any injuries. There were none.

As the smoke cleared, the path of the fire became more evident having started in the basement utility room, spreading horizontally, burning through a basement window and extending under the outside wood deck.

A far different chain of events that could have had more destruction, and created more of a challenge for charging firefighters had the fire remained in the basement spreading horizontally.

In the end, the lives of our neighbors were saved as a result of their early warning fire alarm system.

A total of 48 East Meadow volunteers responded to the fire with temperatures dropping into the upper teens.

The success of the operation resulted in no need for any additional resources. In short order, units were made available from the scene in the event of any other emergencies in town. Although water damage was moderate, the quick extinguishment confined the fire damage to an area along the basement sill plate, ceiling, wood joists, and the exterior deck.

Firefighters were able to relocate family pictures and other items away from the fire area keeping them dry in other rooms of the home.

A small fire by comparison to others, another fine stop by East Meadow's all volunteer force.

Due to the need to carefully examine all avenues for fire spread in and out of the home, some units remained on the scene for nearly two hours. The Nassau County Police Department was on scene, as was PSE&G to cut power, and the Nassau County Fire Marshal's office to determine the cause.

It is for reasons like these, that your East Meadow volunteers remind you to always having working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on each level of your home at the minimum, and check them monthly.

John J. O'Brien is an active Ex Chief of the East Meadow Fire Department. He is the District Supervisor of the Jericho Fire District and has over 40 years of Dispatch and Supervisory experience.