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Raw video: Defensive operations ordered during fire in century old Shrewsbury, NJ home.

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This is video submitted to from reader Tim Griffin of a fire on Monday in a Shrewsbury, New Jersey (Monmouth County) home built in 1903. The video begins with airhorns sounding during the first of at least two evacuation orders.

John T. Ward,

The blaze, at 469 Sycamore Avenue, was reported at about 1:20 p.m. There was no immediate report of injuries or a cause.

At 3:38 p.m., firefighters reported “heavy fire above the front door.”

Ashley Peskoe,

The fire, which started around 1:30 p.m., quickly spread in the single-family house, said Detective Sgt. Robert Turner. The homeowners were inside when the blaze started, but they made it out safely. One of their two dogs was also inside and got out of the house okay.

Christina Johnson, Red Bank-Shrewsbury Patch:

The homeowners escaped the blaze safely along with their pets, according to the report.

“We came in around 1:15 We had heavy fire showing on the first floor upon our arrival,” Shrewsbury Fire Department Chief Pete Gibson said. “We made an interior attack and at that point we found out it was in the walls and had climbed up into the attic and the basement.”

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Comments - Add Yours

  • JW

    That’s one big house. And do you know what that house was saying – “VENT ME!!”.

  • slackjawedyokel

    “vent me hard vent me fast baby”

  • BH

    Know what works better than waiting for the roof to burn through? Cutting a hole. Or two, or three in the case of a house this big.

  • http://none Engine 5er

    Breaking windows and cutting the roof cause excessive damage. It’s better to wait till the fire burns to you and then spray tons of water at it. The roof shingles did a great job of getting the water to the gutters from the open pattern ladderpipe.

  • Retired Chief

    Nice job of ventilating. NOT

  • OldCityCaptain

    I agree JW!…..It’s hard to figure out what’s going on, because…..Nothing’s going on! Balloon construction! If your not aggressive….it’ll make you look foolish!

  • Northeast Jake

    It’s a good thing the taxpayers do not understand fireground tactics and operations. If they did I’m sure they would not fund all these parade pieces for these fire departments. Not having been at this fire I can only comment on the video. It appears that some good truck work and a line to the fire floor would have taken care of this fire. Way too many videos lately of lots of apparatus and manpower doing nothing. Shooting water through a window does not make you a firefighter.

  • Newbie

    Am I the only one who’s concerned with apparatus placement on this scene?

  • OldSutterOne

    An advanced fire in a huge, old, balloon frame residence with extention from the basement to the attic. This one’s a loser. I have no issues with at least giving an interior attack a try. If you can quickly control the basement fire, do vertical venting, while opening the interior walls, you might just save most of the home but lose the roof and attic. However at what cost? At the point in the video all civilians (and pets) are out of the house. The life hazard is now the Fftrs, and the exposure issue is several million dollars worth of fire apparatus. So, in my opinion, this is a good operation, and the right decision to make on going defensive earlier rather than later.


    Got the tower in there close. Got guys in the bucket. Got the bucket up kinda near the roof. And then … and then … WTF???

    I hope the new shingles I just put on my roof fend off water as well as the ones on this joint.

  • agates1272

    What an unbelievable waste of a beautiful house. I’d be pissed.

  • Lizard

    Glad to see Dave is still posting vids on NJ wetdowns…

    Looks like Shrewsbury is doing a pretty good job considering they don’t run much fire in that area not to mention weekday staffing normally suck considering most of the companies in that County are volunteer.

  • Mike

    A bunch of idiots, you get what you pay for. There is so much fire apparatus in Monmouth County to bad their is very few competent people who staff them. I’m sure these guys all went back to their firehouse bars and had a bunch of beers while high fiving one another after word.

  • clay

    Can’t see everything but what you can see makes you wonder,on something that you can hear and is a personal pet peeve of mine is I don’t understand the evacuation tones.
    16 years ago I was taught and it’s what we do here in the midwest is it’s three blasts of the air horn by one single apparatus that is closest to the scene. When you have more then one truck blowing there air horn for as long as they can pull the chain it seems to be more of a mines bigger then yours pissing match and only adds confusion.
    Thank you I feel better now that I got that off my chest.

    • NJ FF

      Three hits on the air horn means charge the hydrant . Long blasts of the air horn means get out . If I’m inside I dont care how many rigs blast their horns .

    • BH

      You’d love Massachusetts then. Statewide SOP is for every piece onscene to sound their horn for 60 seconds.

  • A34

    Fire was originally in the kitchen b/c section of the residence, first arriving crews placed 2 1.75″ handlines in service which darken down the fire, at which time the next alarm companies were arriving. Crews stretched lines to the second floor to check for extension, started opening up and discovered heavy fire in the attic area. Unfortunately, water pressure in the area was an issue as well as man-power/ day time volunteers. Monmouth County is a affluent area majority being white collar. I agree, many fire departments in Monmouth County need to get their act together when it comes to strategy and tactics an stop worrying about how big their next pumper is going be. Many departments in the area including Shrewsbury are aggressive interior firefighters who pride themselves on training and getting the job done. On the flip side, many departments in this area only see a few structure fires a year. There was a lot that we can learn from this fire and I am sure a critique will be held.

  • Coal Cracker

    It amazes me that people are still baffled by building construction that has been around for 150 years. It would have taken some work but this house was totally save-able. Vent the roof, get people inside, and open up the walls. Your crew will be tired and a lot of hose needs to get dirty but its what you signed up for. The building isn’t going to come down anytime soon. Get in there!

  • trucky55-20

    I guess venting the roof isn’t in there vocabulary,talk about a monkey phuckin a football……….

    • fatboy13

      the seven minute video is nothing if you where there the roof was vented its easy to say its easy to be a monday morning quterback

      • truckman37

        After re watching the video, the only vent I see is the eve’s! What was cut a 4″X4″??? A house that size needs a 6’X 6′ vent hole along with taking out the windows. But I guess that would ruin the house huh? SEVERE LACK OF TRAINING IS OBVIOUS!

  • Sharppointy1

    I grew up in a farmhouse in NY that’s now 200 years old. It was insulated with HAY. Never mind the balloon framing; if it’s filled with hay….
    I was very sad watching this house be destroyed. Even I could see that there needed to be some serious roof venting if there was any hope of saving the beautiful home. I feel very badly for the owners. Thank God they and their pets got out safely.

  • Steve in NJ

    I heard that the guy who shot this video is a sexy beast!

  • clay

    Learn something everyday, it’s always interesting to me how departments in other areas do their jobs.
    Thank you NJ FF and BH for the info.

  • NJ FF