On April 2, 2022, at 6:38pm, East Meadow FD Communications began receiving phone alarms reporting a House Fire on Erma Drive.
With no house number initially given, and the sound of the phone ringing in the background, volunteers knew a battle was ahead. Immediately Engines 1, 4, and Ladders 1, and 2, were alerted.
At 6:41pm Safety Officer 6155 arrived on the scene announcing a Signal 10. (Working Fire: First engine in to connect to a hydrant and stretch attack hose lines, re-alert the initial response and add a planned mutual aid of neighboring departments and RIT).
Responding firefighters, making final preparation to their equipment on board the rigs, could see the smoke in the distance of this quickly advancing fire, as orders were given en-route.
“First In” Ladder 617 positioned at the front of the home while coordinating with Engine 614 for access to the nearby fire hydrant.
In quick succession, Ladder 619, Engine 612, Engine 613, Heavy Rescue 616 arrived on the scene with additional manpower to fill the balance of assignments.
As first arriving Chiefs and firefighters assessed the scene and planned the attack it was found that the fire raging across the exterior of the rear of the home was now advancing into the first floor.
Taking charge was Chief of Department Paul J. Kosiba, as Asst Chiefs, Peter S. Cheswick, Phil Fertitta, and James Walsh assumed their fireground roles.
Urgent radio messages soon reported several propane tanks at the rear of home were involved in the fire, with one tanks relief valve spewing flaming gas further contributing with an active gas fire.
Simultaneously firefighters moved an attack hose in through the front door, and one around the rear to extinguish the exterior fire, and cool down the propane tanks eventually resolving the gas leak and propane fire.
As water hit the fire, ladders were thrown to the 2nd floor windows enabling exterior firefighters to vent the heat and toxic gases to assist interior crews, and provide egress in the event of an urgent escape.
Rescue 4 and 5 were on scene establishing a medical treatment area where one firefighter suffering exhaustion was cared for. Later in the fire, a cat located in the home, was turned over to rescue personnel, but made attempts to resuscitate were unsuccessful.
Within 20 minutes of arrival, the main body of fire was extinguished and firefighters worked to extinguish any smoldering or hidden pockets of fire.
Damage to the home was extensive at the rear exterior, and the first floor where firefighters made the stop.
Firefighters were able to prevent the fire from taking over the 2nd floor however, this level of the home suffered extension heat damage.
The Nassau County Fire Marshal’s Office were on scene to handle the propane tanks and determine a cause.
The Ladies Auxiliary were on scene to distribute cold energy fluid, and coffee to exhausted firefighters.
In all, 67 East Meadow firefighters responded to the blaze with another 25 firefighters from Westbury as the Rapid Intervention team, and North Bellmore, Levittown, Hicksville, Wantagh, and North Merrick, who protected the balance of the East Meadow Fire District in the event of any other emergencies.
STORY: John J. O’Brien SR PHOTOS: Jay Zinger