With five buildings in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania considered a total loss, critics question whether firefighters acted quickly enough to stop the flames.
The vast majority of firefighters in Montgomery County are volunteers, which is also the case in Conshohocken. That of course means most firefighters would be at work or at home when any call comes in, and that in turn could delay the response time. But that didn’t appear to be the case this time.
When the very first call came in to 911 at 4:50 Wednesday afternoon, the volunteer firefighters at Washington Station 36 in Conshohocken were already at the firehouse– for a barbeque. “Yesterday’s call, we were here, so we were there,” Conshohocken Firefighter Bob Zinni told Fox 29. They lost no time getting to the scene. County records show they arrived in about seven and a half minutes. They did lose valuable time though as they attached their hose to a fire hydrant. “An employee came out of the office building and struck our supply hose, and that broke,” Zinni explained. Which meant, as the fire burned out of control and threatened to spread to nearby buildings, the first responding firefighters didn’t even have any water. Their fire truck shows the damage, where the heat started to melt the lights and singed the driver’s seat.
“We didn’t have no water supply so our engine, our ladder, both vehicles at that point in time, both apparatus had run out of water,” Zinni said. “So we were basically back there cooking.” For ten very long minutes. The incident commander immediately called for backup from neighboring fire companies, which are also staffed with volunteers. “Most of the guys either leave their families at the dinner table or they’re leaving their jobs,” Zinni explained. And that does take additional time, to drive to the firehouse and gear up. About a half hour into the fire, skyfox showed what appeared to be a somewhat light firefighting response. But the county’s public safety director insists there was no delay getting additional backup to the fire. An estimated 600 firefighters eventually showed up, and ultimately saved three buildings from burning.