News: Joint response contains emergency; aids recovery
Story by Joseph P Cirone
JOINT BASE ANACOSTIA-BOLLING, D.C. – Eighteen days after the consolidation of installation management functions into a joint, Navy-led organization, Air Force, Navy and contract personnel at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, faced their first crisis situation on oCT. 19.
At 10:39 a.m., Naval Support Activity Washington’s Emergency Management Communications Center dispatched Naval District Washington Fire and Emergency Services (NDW F&ES) to the multi-story apartment building, commonly known as Blanchard Barracks.
Firefighters from JBAB-based Engine Company 41 and Tower Ladder 21 entered the building and quickly found a fire suppression system sprinkler head located in a dorm room was expelling a deluge of water throughout the room and beyond.
“Those heads push out as much as 225 gallons of water per minute,” Fire Captain Matthew Fowler, said.
As a precaution against potential electrical, structural and other hazards, DOD Police and Air Force Security Forces personnel kept residents, evacuated from the building, at a safe distance and out of the path of firefighters and other personnel called to handle the emergency.
NDW F&ES Engine Company 43 and Hazardous Materials unit 43, both based at the nearby Naval Research Laboratory were special called to the scene to assist in providing additional manpower and in conducting salvage operations to help minimize water damage. Tower Ladder 21’s crew worked to plug the gushing sprinkler head.
Plumbing, electrical and other craftsmen from JBAB’s Facilities and Services department assisted firefighters at the scene, securing the leak, cutting electricity and containing the water, which affected multiple rooms and floors in the building.
Primary concerns – safety and occupant well being
Fire Batt. Chief Steve Shahan established command at the scene, directing the efforts of the combined military, civilian employee and contract employee public safety and support services team. JBAB Fire Chief, Mark Hendley, led an Incident Management Support Team, which included JBAB command leadership, fire inspection, law enforcement, public affairs, housing, public works and other personnel at the scene.
JBAB Commander, Navy Capt. John Sears said, “My primary concern was for the safety and well being of the occupants.”
Personnel from JBAB’s Warfighter and Family Readiness (WFR) leadership, services center and housing division also assisted at the scene, surveying the situation, offering support for military personnel and relocating personnel from rooms affected by the emergency.
Flooding and the removal of electricity from the affected floors, for safety reasons, forced the temporary displacement of occupants on three floors to other rooms in the Blanchard, Furnari and Enterprise buildings while recovery efforts continued, Sears reported.
Sears commented, “The bachelor housing managers did an exceptional job coordinating the moves and ensuring each Airman or Sailor's needs were met.”
Military personnel from the Navy, Air Force and other services housed in the building, used wet-vacs to help contain the water’s flow to floors below and aid in recovery efforts.
During the emergency, firefighters from the Washington Navy Yard-based Engine Company 42, a fire chief and fire inspector responded to an activated fire alarm elsewhere on JBAB. Engine 42’s response was cancelled, no fire or emergency was located and the alarm was proven false.
With the water and electric secure, the emergency phase complete and safety maintained, firefighters departed the scene approximately two hours after arrival. Law enforcement, craftsmen and support services personnel remained at the scene until no longer needed.
“Our first responders were exceptional,” Sears said.
Sears said, “The combined effort of our public safety, installation support personnel and others that came to help was tremendous. It was truly a joint effort, one worthy of note. One that showed the professionalism and skill of all involved. One that helps make JBAB the premier joint base.”
The cause of the sprinkler leak is under investigation. No injuries occurred. The extent of the damage was not known at press time.