Smoke Investigation in London Britain
November 1, 2023

Many times a year, the WGFC gets dispatched for house fires that turn out to be ultimately something very minor -- but the fire company and it's mutual aid partners take even minor smoke or burning smells very seriously until there can be some certainty as to the cause - even at 3:00am!

Such was the case early on Halloween morning, when WGFC was dispatched for a house fire in the Fox Brook development in London Britain Township. The Chester County 911 Center reported a burning smell and smoke on the second floor. Dispatched with the West Grove Fire Company along with units from Newark, Elkton, Cochranville, Avondale and Hockessin.

Responding from West Grove were Ladder 22, Engine 22-2, Engine 22-3, both ambulances, Tanker 22, and fire police. Engine 22-3 from the nearby London Britain station arrived first, stretching a supply line from Strickersville Road up to the scene on Fox Brook Drive and deployed a 1-3/4" attack line to the front door. Quickly behind them was Engine 9 from the Aetna Hook, Hose & Ladder Company of Newark that took up the supply line. Crews from WGFC Engine 22-2, and Avondale Engine 23-2 assisted with deploying the handline and began to search the home for the source of the burning smell and smoke concentrating on the second floor in a front bedroom. Ladder 22 took the driveway and deployed its aerial ladder to the roof and some ground ladders. Engine 22-1 stopped at Station 222 and set up a tanker fill site in case it was needed at the WGFC's buried water tank at the station in Nichol Park.

Over the course of the next hour, crews searched on all floors, rooms, and attic spaces (including above the garage) using thermal imaging cameras and lights to search for something that might have caused the problem. Ultimately, crews investigating in the attic asked for the heating unit in the attic to be turned back on to assure that it was not a source of the issue. Firefighters on the second floor found no power to the thermostat, removed the cover, and found burn marks on the thermostat circuit board that were determined to be the source of the burning smell and smoke.

Working together, these firefighters use established protocols and procedures to deploy firefighters and trucks for this type of call, always treating each fire situation from the beginning as if it was a real fire. Fortunately, there was no damage at the residence and crews then worked to pick up 200 feet of attack line and approximately 400' of supply line. Units were on scene for just under two hours.

Units: Ladder 22, Engine 22-2, Engine 22-3, Tanker 22, Ambulances 1 & 2, Fire Police
Mutual Aid: Avondale Engine 23-2 and Tanker 23; Elkton Engine 13-2 and Tanker 13; Hockessin Rescue Engine 19 and Tanker 19; Newark Engine 9; Cochranville Tanker 27.