FD responses during Gustav

Danny Bourque / The Times-Picayune

A delayed response to a fire in Jefferson Parish has neighbors upset. This fire started at 8:30 AM from a wind whipped power line. Excerpts from The Times-Picayune:

Jefferson Parish officials say the blaze that gutted 414 Dorrington Blvd. occurred during the height of the storm, when emergency responders are barred as a matter of policy from answering 911 calls. It was a warning local leaders had sounded several times in the days leading up to Gustav’s arrival.

“We said no services would be available in this parish because all efforts would be turned toward the storm and protecting our own employees at critical times,” Parish President Aaron Broussard said.

“We can’t get a firefighter killed during that situation,” added Broussard aide Deano Bonano

But neighbor Edward Martin said the weather wasn’t that severe when the fire erupted. Martin said he, his son and his father-in-law tackled the flames with a garden hose for more than an hour before firefighters from the East Bank Consolidated Fire Department arrived.

“We immediately called the Fire Department, which told us for the next 20 to 30 minutes, ‘Sorry, we don’t come out,’ which I find just unbelievable,” Martin said.

Martin said Sheriff’s Office officials, including Sheriff Newell Normand, himself, arrived at the scene and tried to make calls to get the firefighters to the residence. Martin said Normand assured him that help was on the way.

Firefighters arrived at 10:05 a.m., said acting East Bank Consolidated Superintendent David Saunders. The fire was under control by 10:48 a.m., but the house was a total loss.

Had firefighters not arrived, Martin said he could have lost his own house, possibly all the houses on the street.

“The firemen told me that they wanted to come, but they can’t because the parish won’t let them,” he said.

In New Orleans a change of mind over an initial decision not to respond to what turned into a multi-alarm fire. Here is the official information on this fire from the City of New Orleans:

Two-Alarm Fire: 2714 Esplanade Ave. At 8:44 a.m., the New Orleans Fire Department (NOFD) responded to residential alarms at 2714 Esplanade Ave. The first alarm from this residence came in at 7:10 a.m., but adhering to NOFD Hurricane Policy preventing department personnel from responding to incidents during sustained winds of 40 mph or more, the NOFD did not respond initially. After receiving multiple alarms from the same residence, Superintendent Parent and other fire officials made a tactical decision to respond to this incident. Firefighters arrived on the scene within six minutes of being dispatched from their area of last refuge at the Morial Convention Center. Approximately 45 members of the NOFD responded to this two-alarm fire. The incident was classified “fire out” at 10:14 a.m. There were no injuries reported and the fire is under investigation at the present time.

More information from the City of New Orleans on some fire department activities on Monday:

One Alarm Fire: Astor Crown Plaza At 12:17 p.m., NOFD responded to the Astor Crown Plaza Hotel, 379 Canal St., with reports of an odor of smoke in the basement. There was an air condition water pipe with condensation dripping onto two lights which shorted out. Three engines, one ladder truck and a District Chief responded to this incident. The hotel was not evacuated.

Windshield Survey At 1:15 p.m., New Orleans Fire Department district chiefs began a survey of their respective districts to determine wind speed, debris and if streets are flooded. Engine and Ladder companies have begun to survey their target areas. Examples of target areas are hospitals, nursing homes and city facilities. NOFD has resumed normal operations at 2:15 p.m. today.

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