Lessons from a Fire

The apartment that burned was in this West Pier structure
Firefighters and equipment came out in force to train on lessons from the fire  |  this photo by Teddie Hathaway
Firefighter opens hose box on West Pier
Hose is fully deployed before water is turned on
Liz Brott practices with dock hose  |  all other photos and post by Larry Clinton

The recent apartment fire on West Pier turned out to be a valuable learning experience for residents and firefighters alike.

On October 8, firefighters from Southern Marin, Marin County and Tiburon, plus Sheriff units, were dispatched to a structure fire at an apartment building known as ‘The Whale’ at 28 West Pier.

Crews arrived within 3 minutes and worked quickly and efficiently to keep the fire contained to the apartment of origin. And it’s a good thing they did, because neighbors found that the dock hoses were too short to reach the fire. Thanks to the coordinated efforts of the firefighters, damage was contained to the apartment and contents. Residents of the adjacent units were evacuated.

The following week, dozens of firefighters and trucks returned to the scene for training based on experience gained on the 8th.  One unique aspect of this emergency was that the firefighters hooked their hoses up to a marina-owned standpipe. Usually, they pump water from their trucks, without relying on residential water sources, but in the interest of time, they used the nearest available source.

At the invitation of Emergency Service chair Flo Hoylman, firefighters and sheriff’s deputies held an After Incident Community Meeting on November 12 to help address questions and concerns. One of the major concerns was that although the water hookups on the dock are rated for 100-foot hoses, only 75-foot houses are attached to them. Residents resolved to take this safety issue up with marina management.

Southern Marin Battalion Chief Jason Golden directed residents to his group’s website for safety tips and more.

Flo offered to arrange similar fire drills for other docks. To schedule one, contact her directly.

Elaine Wilkinson, Marin County Emergency Preparedness Coordinator, also attended the meeting and handed out materials to help cope with fire and flooding. She urged everyone to sign up for alerts at Ready Marin, and offered to put together trainings on specific safety issues for groups of 20 or more.

After the meeting firefighters helped residents practice with an on-site pressurized hose leaving the residents feeling more confident in what to do during an emergency situation.