At 12:14 pm on Sunday, February 5, 2017, the Chestertown Volunteer Fire Company was dispatched “Automatic Aid” for a Chimney Fire in the 100 block of Fey Road, Kingstown. This is located across the Chester River Bridge from Chestertown, but in Queen Annes County. Due to county jurisdictions, the Church Hill VFC has primary responsibility for fire and life safety protection, but because of the close proximity to Chestertown, the Chestertown VFC is picked up as “Automatic Aid”.
A fire officer with the Church Hill VFC arrived first and assumed command of the incident. The first fire suppression unit to arrive was Chestertown’s Engine 6. Arriving units were confronted with heavy smoke showing on the exterior. When Engine 6 (Chestertown) arrived, an 1-3/4″ hose line was deployed and the crew entered the dwelling. They were immediately confronted with heavy smoke and zero visibility. Crews from Engine 6 subsequently located fire in a wall of a living room that had been converted from a garage. This fire was quickly extinguished. Later, after a crew from Goodwill VFC of Centreville arrived, a second 1-3/4″ hose line was deployed from Engine 6 by them. They entered the dwelling and assisted with operations.
Incoming Engine 55 (Church Hill) was assigned to the basement when they arrived. They encountered a deep seated fire and severe conditions. They handled operations in that area. Because of conditions encountered by fire crews, “Vertical Ventilation” was deemed necessary. Tower 6 (Chestertown) and Tower Ladder 5 (Church Hill) were assigned this task. Vertical Ventilation refers to the sometimes necessary practice of cutting a hole in the roof at a serious structure fire. Heat and Smoke increases property damage inside the structure and hampers the ability of fire crews to operate effectively. By completing Vertical Ventilation, conditions inside improve dramatically. This limits property damage and promotes the ability of fire crews to work efficiently.
With the layout of the house, extensive overhaul operations were required. Overhaul refers to the process of ferreting out every ember and ensuring the fire is completely extinguished. Crews operated for about three (3) hours forty-five (45) minutes on this incident. There were no injuries to either civilian or fire service personnel.