Penn Township Home Fire
By Secretary Bill Wohl
November 23, 2019

Just as Monday evening vehicle rescue training was ending, the West Grove Fire Company was dispatched to a reported fire type unknown along Baltimore Pike in Penn Township.

Engine 22-1 and Ladder 22 were already just leaving the New London Station, along with Tanker 22. These units made an immediate response followed quickly Engine 22-2. While enroute, units were advised that additional callers were indicating a house was on fire, and Deputy 22 upgraded the assignment to a "working fire dispatch," which brings additional units from various other agencies.

As the WGFC units proceeded north on 796, a large volume of smoke and fire could be seen, indicating they faced a well-involved fire. Deputy 22 went on location and advised a house with heavy fire showing and established command. Engine 22-1 proceeded up the long driveway, laying 1000' of a 5" supply line from Old Baltimore Pike, and located to the rear of the structure where most of the fire was burning on the second floor and roof. Ladder 22 also arrived, positioning on the north side of the structure and began the crew began laddering the fire building.

Engine 22-1's crew immediately stretched a 300' pre-connected 1-3/4" attack line and proceeded into the structure to begin the fire fight. Arriving crews from Ladder 22 and Engine 22-2 stretched two more 1-3/4" lines from Engine 22-1 into the fire building, with crews operating on the second floor and first floor and exterior of the structure. Eventually, a 3" "leader" line was stretched to the residence, adding a fourth hand line to the firefighting.

Meanwhile, out on East Baltimore Pike, Tanker 22 had dropped two portable water tanks holding a total of 6000 gallons along the roadway at the end of the driveway. Since the nearest fire hydrant was thousands of feet east of the fire scene, the plan was to use portable tanks supplied by water tankers to feed the fire scene. Tanker 22 flowed water directly to Engine 22-1 through about 1000' of supply line to support the fire fighting, while Engine 21-2 arrived to establish a suction to the portable tanks and begin water supply operations, under the direction of Assistant 22.

Water tankers from Oxford, West Grove, Avondale, Longwood and Cochranville were used to fill the portable tanks and shuttle water from the fill site. Engine 22-2 relocated to the Penn Ridge development about 3/4 mile east of the scene and established a fill site operation to re-fill water tankers. More than 40,000 gallons of water was used to extinguish this fire, as tankers shuttled water to and from the fill site to the fire scene.

Crews from area fire companies worked with the WGFC team to ultimately extinguish the blaze, open up walls and spaces to assure all smoldering material was extinguished, and put the fire under control. Crews from Cochranville and Longwood provided rapid intervention teams on standby, and EMS units from West Grove, Avondale and Medic 94 were on the scene as well.

Crews worked from the dispatch just past 9pm until clearing the scene around 1am the next day. Clean up operations took another 90 minutes with assistance at Station 22 from the standby crews from Station 52 (Lancaster County) and Tower 24 (Kennett).

There were no injuries, and the Chester County Fire Marshall is investigating.

Units: Engines 22-1 and 22-2, Ladder 22, Tanker 22, Ambulances 22, WGFC Fire Police, Squad 22, Utility 22
Mutual Aid: Engine 21-2, Ladder 21, Tanker 21, Rescue 23, Engine 23-2, Tanker 23, Tanker 27, Engine 27-1, Tanker 25, Rescue 25, Ambulance 23, Medic 94, Chester County Fire Marshal units, Cecil Engine 8-1-2