This morning at the 3rd Annual First Responders Appreciation Breakfast hosted by the Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce, King George County DFRES C Shift was awarded the Heroism Award for their effects at the JC Bean Sprout Plant fire.
On July 7, 2018 (Saturday) the call came in to 911 and the Fire & Rescue Department was dispatched at 4:39 PM for a "fire endangering a structure" at 2294 Kings Highway. The building was the J C Bean Sprout, Incorporated consisting of approximately 44,000 square foot of industrial warehouse and business offices used for agricultural purposes. The 911 caller advised that there were some boxes and wooden pallets on fire on the loading dock of the business. King George Firefighters responded less than one minute from time of dispatch and arrived on-scene within 10 minutes and found a heavy amount of fire on the loading dock and in the interior of the building. Firefighters quickly made contact with employees that were non-English speaking and ensured that they evacuated the building and quickly assured their safety. While the building was filled with heavy smoke and fire conditions the building was quickly searched and was determined that no further employees were inside the building. Firefighters worked aggressively to suppress the fire from the inside and from advancing, but unfortunately the fire was too intense had spread to fast. All fire ground operations were then switched to defensive (exterior) operations.
The building had no fire suppression sprinkler system and there were no fire hydrants on-site. A rural water supply Tanker shuttle operation was established utilizing fire hydrant fill sites at Sealston Elementary school and at the Industrial Park and a drafting operation from a nearby
pond, stretching approximately 3000 feet of supply hose from a relay pumper. One King George Firefighter had to be treated and was transported to Mary Washington Hospital for heat exhaustion. King George Fire units remained on-scene throughout the overnight hours monitoring any rekindles. This building fire required an estimated 75 Firefighters from the King George Fire & Rescue Department and throughout the region. Firefighters had to work this incident over a period of 3 days in the hot summer temperatures and used an estimated 214,000 gallons of water was used for firefighting operations.
We are thankful for our neighboring Fire Departments assisting us during this complex incident. This includes units from Stafford, Spotsylvania, Caroline, City of Fredericksburg, Colonial Beach, Charles County, MD, and Naval District Washington (NDW) Dahlgren. The King George Sheriff's Office assisted with traffic control and providing the mobile Incident Command Unit. A comprehensive fire investigation occurred and the cause of the fire was ultimately undetermined, but did originate in the area of the loading dock.
Summary of Unique Challenges:
1. This was a large mixed use building of approximately 44,000 sq. ft. with no automatic fire sprinkler system and no automatic fire alarm detection system. This caused the fire to intensify and spread quickly.
2. Employees did not speak English. This language barrier caused some initial confusion as to the confirmation that all employees were accounted for and delayed the initial fire response. This required Fire & Rescue crews to ensure the building was searched and evacuated during a very hazardous and heavy smoke and fire conditions.
3. No fire hydrants were near-by causing an extensive drafting and rural water supply operation in order to supply the 214,000 gallons of water needed.
4. Firefighters had to protect an large fuel tank beside the building and several vehicles, so that they did not catch fire.
5. The roof and walls collapsed and the building burned for days. Firefighters had to cut openings in the metal sides of the building in order to access portions of the building.
6. The fire investigation was complex and hazardous due to large foot print and the collapsed building. The investigation had to be coordinated with the insurance company and a crane to lift portions of the steel roof structure in order for the investigation into the cause and origin of the fire.