Eastern Berks Fire Department, as do many local fire companies, operates in snow mode during major snow events like this weekend’s Blizzard of 2016. That means preparing apparatus ahead of forecasted storms, including placing tire chains on key trucks.
Bally Ambulance, often requests that once the snow reaches a certain depth (often 6+ inches), the nearest fire department respond with the ambulance to help gain access to each patient through unplowed driveways and unshoveled walkways. This involves crews responding from the Bally station with the snow plow equipped Utility 97, and from the Bechtelsville station with additional manpower.
In addition, during major storms, crews often sleep at one of the stations to make sure the apparatus can respond to any emergency. During and after this blizzard, with its incredible challenges, we were lucky to be called upon only five times:
- Saturday January 23 – In the midst of the “Blizzard of 2016,” 97 and 505 were dispatched for an ALS trauma in Washington Township. Crews were on standby in one of the department’s station and responded to assist the ambulance crew in gaining access to the patient. Roads were nearly impassable, and only with help of the Washington Township road crew could the medics reach the patient. 97 personnel assisted with gaining access to the house and transferring the patient to the ambulance. Thank you Washington Township.
- Sunday January 24 – In the aftermath of the Blizzard of 2016, 97, 505 and Montg 67 were dispatched for an ALS Medical in Douglas Township. Roads were snow covered, drifted to one lane in places. Once again a township road crew assisted by clearing the home’s driveway through the 2+ feet of snow in order for medics to gain access to the patient. Fire personnel then shoveled the walk to the house and assisted to transport the patient over the snowy drive to the waiting ambulance. Thank you Douglass Township!
- Sunday January 24 – Just as the weary 97 firefighters and families were sitting down to their annual holiday dinner, once again 97 and 505 were dispatched to an ALS Trauma, this one in Washington Township. Again fire crews assisted EMS in gaining access to the patient and removing the patient across snow to the ambulance.
- Monday January 25 – 97 and 505 dispatched for an BLS trauma in Washington. As with the other calls, assisted in snow removal, and getting patient to litter.
- Monday January 25 – 97 dispatched to investigate possible transformer fire in Washington. Deputy 97 arrived to find smoke coming from underground transformer vault. Assignment held to E97-2 at normal flow. Area cordoned off with yellow scene tape. As the company was going available Met-Ed arrived on location.
After the storms, we then make sure hydrants are cleared of snow (something with which the public can gladly assist!)
All part of your 100% volunteer unpaid professional fire department!
Wednesday January 20 – At 2239 hours, Companies 97 & 505 were dispatched to the 1000 block of Route 100 in Washington Township for a MVA unknown injuries. Dispatch notes indicated one vehicle into a building. Deputy 97 arrived on location to find a vehicle that had veered off the road, sideswiped a utility pole, traveled up a hill and went airborne over a Ford Ranger pickup truck and came to rest on the front porch of a restaurant. Deputy 97 confirmed one patient for an evaluation. Crews controlled hazards, and assisted with debris clean up. While still on location, the company was dispatched to assist EMS on an ALS Medical.
Tuesday January 12 – Following a night of snow squalls, icy roads, heavy winds, and plummeting temperatures, the structure response was dispatched at 2344 hours for the report of a shed on fire next to a barn in District. First fire officer on the scene confirmed a fully involved workshop/shed with extension into barn which was only ten feet away. One of the multiple hazards was a propane tank venting from the heat. The venting suddenly ceased the the tank rocketed into the air before falling to the ground. Command ordered the crew from Engine 97-3 to pull a line and work on protecting the barn, while also asking Berks to dispatch the next four tankers, and also adding a second alarm. In spite of extreme weather difficulties, crews made a tremendous stop. Damage to to barn was kept to a minimum, and the horses and cows inside were not harmed. Damage to the home directly across the narrow drive was also kept to a minimum even though the wind was carrying all the heat directly into the side of the house. On scene were crews and apparatus from 97, 95, 19, 21, 39, 58, 505, Montg 65, 67, 37. Thank you to all! Two news links appear below.
Thank you to Keith Long of Bally Ambulance for the photos here.
Once again on a Christmas Day, 97 personnel left homes and families to respond to an alarm. This was came in at 1118 hours when 97 units were dispatched with Co 39 and Medic 575 for MVA with injuries in the 800 block of Huffs Church Rd, District Twp , vehicle into pole, crews assisted EMS with patient care and shut roadway down due to wires hanging low over the roadway. Units on scene Attack 39, Rescue 97, Traffic 97 and Medic 575.
Tuesday December 15 – At 1637 hours, 97 and 505 were dispatched for an MVA with Entrapment and possible fire on Rt 100 at Mill St in Washington. Dispatch notes indicated two vehicles, one on its side and smoking. Deputy 97 arrived and confirmed entrapment, but no fire. One patient unconscious in the overturned vehicle, and another patient on the roadway. Air medical was put on stand-by, with 95 dispatched to set up a landing zone at the park in Bechtelsville. Rescue personal stabilized the vehicle on its side using rescue struts and sidewinder jacks. Personal worked about 15 minutes to free the driver using hydraulic tools. Additional Fire Police were requested from 58 and 95 to shut down Route 100. 505 requested air medical to fly and patient was taken to LZ for flight, other patient transported by ground. Road was shut down for an extended time to allow for PSP accident investigation team to work. Thank you to all those who helped, including all fire police who kept the road shut for over six hours for PSP to work. On scene from 97 were: Rescue 97, Engine 97-3, Attack 97, Brush 97-1 & Tankers 97-2 & 3.
Monday December 14 – At 1745 hours, Rescue 97 along with apparatus from Berks 58, 39 and 505 were dispatched as part of the second alarm on a working structure fire at CJ Robinson (manufacturer of waxes) on Pillsbury Dr on Upper Hanover. Montg Co. Companies included 65, 38, 71, 42, 37, 54, 58, 369, and Canteen 41; Bucks Units included 57/75, 58, and 18. Shortly after first arriving Montg officers arrived – they reported heavy smoke and fire through the roof. Rescue 97′s crew was assigned RIT and stood by without incident until released by command at 2300 hours.
He (or is it she?) is standing guard at our sign on Rt 100 next to Burt’s Farms Deli.
The chain saw carved bear was moved into place the first weekend of December.
It reminds each person who passes by to be on guard against fire.
We wish you a fire safe Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Tuesday December 1 – 5, 19, 97 and numerous other departments were dispatched for a working barn fire in Pike off of Hill Church Rd. Southeastern Berks Tanker Task Force was added to the assignment, and a second alarm was struck for additional personnel. Responding from Eastern Berks were Engine 97-3, Attack 97, Tankers 97-2 and 97-3, and Brush 97-3. Firefighters worked to contain the heat and flames, but news reports cited the property owner saying that more than 100 racing pigeons were housed in the barn and believed to be lost in the fire. We thank Rick Bugero of Oley Division of Fire and Rescue for the arrival photo.
Monday November 30 at 0056 hours, Companies 19 and 97 were dispatched for a vehicle fire reported to be a camper in Earl. Deputy 19 arrived to find a fully involved camper fire and ordered crews to access the scene via a long dirt lane and a corn field. Company 97 personal assisted 19 personal and was available in an hour. Units on scene Engine 97-3 & 19-1, Attack 97, Brush 97-3 & 19.