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Early video: House fire in Somerville, NJ with man burned.

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Video from Jim T of a house fire around 10:30 this morning at 123 West Orchard Street in Somerville, New Jersey. Investigators say the fire started when a 69-year-old man was smoking a cigarette while breathing from an oxygen tank. News reports indicate that man suffered severe burns to his face and hands.

At about 2:21 on video 2 there is a small explosion toward the front of the house. According to news reports, there were also about a dozen long rifles stored in the home.

Steve Strunsky, The Star-Ledger:

“Not a good idea,” said Capt. George Fazio of the Somerville Police. “It’s an extremely dangerous act.”

The burned man, James Flood, was flown to a local hospital by a State Police helicopter that landed at nearby Somerville High School, about a block from the West Orchard Street fire, Fazio said.


Comments - Add Yours

  • Crowbar

    Love the canine color commentary in part one.

  • slackjawedyokel

    Just how many “firefighters” does it take to break and attach a 5″ supply line in a timely manner? Apparently more than two. Just wondering was the tank to pump valve broken?

  • Scooter

    I still think for this job open the pipe and go through the front door, with straight stream. You will not push the fire, test show that and you start to darken down the fire right away. Compaired to going to the rear and have to crawl through the smoke trying to find the fire in the front, as the fire continues to grow in size. Just look at how fast the smoke conditions change at this fire. Take my old chiefs saying “get the line run in 30 seconds or less and go to work and 98% of your problems go away”. Do that and go through the front door and I think less damage. K Strike Da Box! K

  • Jimmy

    And we wonder why we kill firemen, classic example of opposing hoselines in part 2. Thanks Wackertown Pa for some fine Sunday night halftime entertainment.

    • CHAOS

      Wackertown PA ??!!

  • Harry Rampe

    2 and 3/4 minutes before a line was on the fire.Way too slow.Mybe if they had a hose streacher they could have hooked up the 5 inch sooner.Carry a 25 jumper and use it in this case.

  • shaun

    Good job Ville

  • Fire21

    It appeared the engineer was more interested in supplying the engine than supplying the attack lines. I tend to agree with Scooter here. There was no wind to fight, only fire (and an occasional O2 tank)!!

  • justsumff

    I agree with the front door approach, knock it down early. It was interesting to see the rear light off when they did knock out the porch fire.

    • Jim

      Watch it again. It did not light off because they started knocking down the porch. It light off because they gave the fire what it needed, oxygen. As soon as they open the rear door it took off. Great video to watch fire behavior and an underventilated fire.

  • FF E3 B Shift

    There are several things about this incident that bother me. But one of the first things to strike me was watching all of the FFs standing at the curb in TOG waiting on an Engine to arrive. This looks horrible in my opinion. I dread day that a victim dies while unequipped FFs are standing outside being spectators in $2000 turnout gear.

    • Gil

      So what do you want them to do? Sit in their cars untill the fire truck gets there.

      • FF E3 B Shift

        I don’t know Gil. I personally don’t give a rats behind what they do. It looks horrible. Maybe instead of buying a million dollar tiller the dept could spend some money on staffing and have firefighter equipped rigs arriving on scene instead. I’m not a fan of POV response to scenes. Guys rush their lot up vehicles to a scene and endanger lives so they can stand at the corner and wait on on the engine and truck to arrive. If they have to drive normal traffic and wait down the street until the engine gets closer it would still be better than letting the neighbors see your local FD stand on the curb of a burning home like a bunch of school children waiting on their bus. So, Mr. Gil, I guess I would start with madating a station only response in POVs.

        • FF E3 B Shift

          I meant “lit up”.

          To add to my comment about direct POV response….I also believe there are accountability issues with it. If you only arrived with staffed apparatus, the company officer on that rig or the person in that seat takes the role of reporting their personnel to the accountability officer. It would be a real shame if Jim got there and fell through to the basement and the department didn’t figure it out until they saw his truck down the street with the lights still flashing on their way back to the station.

  • Aardvark

    You guys are forgetting……..they found GUNS in the house !!!!! Guns !!!! EVIL guns !!!!

    Just saying….

  • Putz

    btw all the temp outside was in the teens so they were having trouble with line freezing up, and hydrant hookup was stalled because of freeze up that’s what took so long, and yeah a freind of mine was there and told me this! still should of been quicker than what it was.

    • 95%er

      It was cold. The line didn’t freeze up before it was charged. They were slow at basic engine company tasks.

      The line should have been charged from tank water right away. Don’t let the chauffeur get preoccupied with other things. Get the line charged so they can knock the fire and let the folks around you help you get a water supply. Notify the next arriving engine to bring you water. They should be standing by and ready to do this anyway.

      Once they got water flowing they did a nice job of moving through the house and knocking the fire.

  • Anonymous

    Ill save the harsh comments and just say you guys need to train more and figure out what the hell is going on

  • cappy

    Quick attack with a preconnect.. exterior… kill the flashover.. with tank water in 1-2 min…. let some of the yard breathers break and attach the ldh while setting the table for an interior ops. Given the staffing pattern.. a quick kill while preparing for the interior was warranted. Distracted pump operator…. it always shows… been there and done that one. Incident action plan can be formulated and communicated in 30 sec. on a fire like this one. Without one.. everyone just jumps in and helps where they can. Theses guys did the best they could given the circumstances… they… like my dept. just need to drill.

  • Wilson Says

    This is EMBARASSING and I would hope FD Administration would agree and take quick corrective action. You have video evidence of youyr poor performance, please use this as a training tool and correct your wrongs! Naw, what am I thinking….. They high fiven each other back at the firehouse talking smack about how they kicked the red devils a$$ pounding beers! Today’s fire service has become way to accepting of ineput performances like this. WOW!

  • Coal Cracker

    I would have walked back to the engine and charged the line off tank water myself before standing there twirling my finger in the air for several minutes. Lots of people standing around not doing anything constructive.

  • Robert Kramer

    Amazes me that “pushing fire” is a myth in the thread with the opposite end of the house lighting up with the application of the fire stream.

    • 95%er

      Robert, we both know it happens. But if the line is moving in and knocking the fire as it goes along, its a “non-issue”. The line is going to push stuff in front of it for a few seconds, and the gases are gonna light up if you push some hot flaming stuff into them. The issue is if it is better to go right after the fire or try to attack it from the unburned side. In a large commercial fire like a strip mall…yes, go from unburned to burned. But in a typical SFD, go after the fire you see and knock it out.

    • Jim

      I think you need to watch the video again. The line was not flowing into the house when the rear light up. What caused the rear to ignite was the opening of the rear door causing the oxygen starved fire to get oxygen and ignite.

  • Just an old Volly

    I hope this is a small town with not to many fires!


    Pretty ineffective committee working on that LDH. Geez. Just a tip, if you’re not carrying short pieces of LDH to patch in, then don’t break the supply line at the back step & expect it to stretch to the pump panel. BTW, why aren’t you carrying short pieces of LDH?? Noticed one of my pet peeves, too – the engine pulled right up to the back step of the tiller. Obviously can’t say how they carry all their ladders, but something’s in that tunnel coming out the back; ladders, hooks, etc.

  • BH

    Three opposing handlines. Awesome. Whoever ordered that 2.5″ charged needs their ass kicked.

  • Anonymous

    It looks like this fire was fought by a punch of untrained FF’s from southern Kenya

  • Tiller

    Besides all of the bread and butter engine co. issues, I guess the million dollar tiller ladder was there no reason. Not a single ground ladder was thrown but there were 25 guys standing around doing nothing.

  • ACFD139

    I agree with Scooter!!.. And I am wondering how ladders where taken off the ladder Truck with the Engine parked right upon its rear end?? Yet again the Truck Co. is left to deal with being forgotten about until something goes wrong. Then called upon to mitigate..

  • jon

    two words…..


    learn it.
    know it.
    use it.

  • Nicole Hyatt

    WOW, what some ignorant people on here! I will have you know MY brother is a Somerville Fire Fighter, in fact his department was the one called to this fire! Incase you didnt notice, the fire was controlled and put out, there was no deaths in it, and none of the fire fighters were hurt!! For those of you who are not fire fighters! Please IF you really think do a better job, grow a set and step into these fires and save lives, and for those who “ARE” fire fighters, SHAME ON YOU!! these men put themselves out there and all you can do is point out the flaws! YOU ARE ALL IGNORANT!! GREAT JOB SOMERVILLE FIRE FIGHTERS!!

    • Wilson Says

      So what you are saying is just because the FD showed up and the fire went out, there were no deaths or firefighter injuries it is ALL OK, REGARDLESS of how bad their performance was? Really?? Heaven forbid that constructive critisim is embranced and something is learned, this could be a GREAT training tool for the FD. Nope… so long as we pat everyone on the back and LIE and tell them what a GREAT JOB they did slaying the Red Devil! On a positive note alot of them did show up, most wore their bunker gear, other than that this was a train wreck and only by luck were there no injuries and/or deaths. Sometimes the TRUTH HURTS!

    • agates1272

      Wow, I can’t resist this one.

      Nicole Hyatt, there is a HUGE difference between being a firefighter and “putting yourself out there” and doing the job, and “putting yourself out there” and doing the job RIGHT. Please, before you criticize the people making comments on the FLAWS, gain a little knowledge and understanding of fire behavior and basic fireground tactics.

      While you are correct and the fire eventually got controlled, these firefighters, with the right leadership and training, could have minimized the damage to the home by following some very basic principles regarding proper ventilation and application of water. Get bent out of shape all you want, but 99% of comments on this fire and the ff’s performance are right on.

    • Depressed Fireman


      While I understand your passion, your argument is one of the downfalls of today’s fire service. True, the fire is no longer burning, but that’s not the whole ball of wax! There could have been a life still hanging in the balance, or property to be saved if a line was in service faster. Too many “firefighters” have the attitude that as long as the fire goes out, and no one is hurt, then it’s a major success. WRONG!!!! You train on this job too give it your all, and to be the best you can be. That means stretching and charging hoslines and throwing ladders as proficiently as humanly possible. The men and women in this video aren’t bad people, just probably misguided in thinking that this was a total success.

  • Eric

    You guys are dead wrong on the fact that the line operating into the front porch lit up the rear. If you actually watch the video, the fire is progressing to the rear anyway, and the back lit up when the guys opened the rear door. Their steams were mostly concentrated on the front porch at that point, there is no way their streams drove oxygen and pushed fire to the rear of the house. To suggest otherwise shows a lack of understanding of fire behavior and ventilation.

  • Anonymous

    Well where do you start on this one??? Some basic’s all the FF’s on location prior to arrival of units. Did they aleast do any recon? Try any searchs around doorways for any possible victum’s? At the time of their arrival it appeared conditions to the rear were minor and aleast a check of this area would have been nice insteat of putting their masks on while standing in the street with no bottle… what good is this?
    Saw no placement of ground ladders until 5:40 of part 2 when the first ground ladder was being deployed… but maybe a delay of getting ground ladders off the truck cause it appeared the engine parked on top of the truck to its rear compartment. As no upper venting was being done!
    Saw a lot of men coming up the street with SCBA but hardly any tools in their hands as EMS was bringing more equipment then the FD.
    Fire attack is questionable??
    I hope they critque this and make improvements and maybe have the responders go to the station and man the equipment and just not show up in their PV’s>

    • agates1272

      “I hope they critque this and make improvements and maybe have the responders go to the station and man the equipment and just not show up in their PV’s”

      True statement. Far too often vollies who are permitted to respond POV choose to go straight to the scene, rather than to the station to man equipment. A vollie department I worked with a number of years ago had strict SOG’s about this–you only responded direct to the scene if all rigs were already manned and enroute. If you responded direct and got to the scene before equipment, there was hell to pay (unless you were the chief or asst. chief, of course). There’s no worse display of wasted time and resources than a bunch of firefighters all dressed up and NOT ready to go…

      • BH

        So it’s better to respond to the station, miss the trucks, and have one less firefighter onscene? In a volunteer department, especially those that cover a large are, there will always be members closer to the scene than to the station.

        • agates1272

          Re-read my comment…I said-“you only responded direct to the scene if all rigs were already manned and enroute.”

          I agree that there will be members closer to the scene than to the station, HOWEVER, if all those members respond direct, IT WILL DELAY equipment getting to the scene. I can name a handful of times that I had to drive PAST the scene on my way to the station to man a rig…it sucks, but it has to be done. Yeah, it’s great to get to the scene first, but what good are you without an SCBA or a hoseline?

          • BH

            And just like there will always be members closer to the scene, there were always be member closer to the station. It’s not rocket science.

            Heck, I live less than a mile and a half from my station, and unless it’s during the overnight, I usually don’t have a prayer of making the truck before it rolls. Sometimes not even then. I guess I could sit at the station with my thumb up my ass till they get back, but since you never know who went and who didn’t, it’s better in that situation that I just go to the scene.

  • Brian Haggerty

    Couple of comments and questions. First I cannot tell you how many homes i go to where the idiot on oxygen because of COPD etc is still smoking. I am told that this constant use of oxygen in the home saturates the furniture and the other things in the room so if there is a fire the whole room and everything inside burns faster. Yes /no ? Yes, I did see a delay in using the tank water while screwing around with the LDH. Lack of using the tank always leaves me wondering why have a tank if you don’t use it? As far as tactics of front attack pushing or rear attack. Lots of comments. But it’s hard to know if the cooments are coming from a senior or junior FF. Are they coming from a full time or part time FF. When these arguments start getting this deep, maybe you can cite your experience / time of the job / type of department. It would cast some light as to where these viewpoints come from. Maybe it would show a trend between different types of Depts , old school vs new etc. Would be interesting to see where the views in tactics are coming from. That in itself may show a training trend. It’s just an idea. Maybe this would add to the knowledge base that the video give insight to. what do you think folks?? Every win and fail is a learning lesson. Correct??

  • Commenter

    Wow. On the bright side, they’re almost as fast as Detroit.

    Simple, one-size-fits almost everything tactics make for excellent results, as long as they are well thought out and well practiced.

    1) first engine gets there and Kills the flashover – or lays in and Blitzes if the fire is advanced. As volunteers, staffing might mean that you arrive with less than 4, and being able to KTF gives you an effective first option. KTFing as a matter of standard operations means that guys can arrive with an action in mind to do without being told – they can do this with little or no risk to themselves, they can do this almost regard to conditions, and it’s almost always the best thing for them to do. This gives the officers a moment to size up and announce a plan.
    2) second engine does whatever it takes to give water to the first engine.
    3) truck positions to use the aerial.

    1st 4:
    IC, Pump Operator
    Team 1 – KTF then shift to Attack

    Additional Firefighters:
    Team 2 – Horizontal Vent and laddering then shift to SAR while assisting advancing Team 1’s line
    Team 3 – RIG – ensure egress via ladders and exterior doors.
    Additional FFs at IC’s discretion: Command Aid, 3rd man on teams, 4th team, more RIG.

  • ryan nicoletta

    Nice job NJ. Nicole is spot on, the guys on the job controlled the fire, made a grab and kept themselves from getting hurt.

    Come on people… stop trolling and try some constructive criticism. Yeah, there was a delay in getting water on the fire BUT… this is only one video from one angle. Looks like there was a lot going on for the first engine company on scene: a rescue problem, a good room and contents fire AND o2 tanks/ ammo inside the house!

    Anyone from Somerville on this thread? or know anything about the final disposition of the fire or the guy they grabbed?

  • David S.

    Nicole you have a lot to learn.Looks to me a repeat of those hose jockies from P.A.

  • slackjawedyokel

    Having spent some time in New Jersey -I was amazed at the quality and quanity of apparatus there. I would think as a tax payer that I would have a right to expect basic TASKS such as charging a line off tank water and being able to hook up a supply line in a timely manner. New Jersey has some COUNTY fire academies nicer than some state ones. I get a feeling that a lot of firefighters are taking the glamorus classes such as RIT and not polishing up on the basics.

  • 20 yrs. in

    Maybe sometimes eveything doesn’t go text bok but at least these men were there instead of getting ready to watch football!! Those of u who comment probally have never been in thier shoes. Easy to be a by-stander, a**hole, or just jealous u don’t have what it takes to do what we (real men) are willing to do…. By the way WILSON u prove ignorance.