PORTSMOUTH — Eight people are alive thanks to the quick response and heads-up reaction of the members of the Portsmouth Fire Department.
On Feb. 9, a fire broke out in an apartment building on 16th Street.
Portsmouth Fire Chief Bill Raison said the call came in at around 6 a.m. and when firefighters arrived on the scene there was heavy smoke on the third floor to the extend that the occupants on the third floor were trapped on the third floor.
“We sent a team up the inside and while we were doing that we ran another team laddering the outside,” Raison said. “They (firefighters) ended up taking five kids and three adults out the third story window there.”
Just days before, the Portsmouth Fire Department kept damages to a minimum and helped preserve an area of Market Street because of their quick response and knowledge of firefighting techniques.
“They have done so well at adapting to really difficult situations because we just do not have the staffing,” Raison said. “What we do with six or eight people on a fire is unbelievable. Most cities will have three to four times that number of people on the scene.”
Raison said there is a list of tasks that have to be completed at any fire scene and that work has to be completed no matter how many people respond to the scene.
“Life preservation is obviously the first thing,” Raison said. “So, you’ve got to conduct search and rescue operations. At the same time, you need to contain the fire. Then, lastly, property conservation. Frequently property conservation is the least issue.”
He said, when as small a crew as the PFD has to respond with, occurs, they must be concerned with the most important part of the task and that is preserving life, which is exatly what the members of the Portsmouth Fire Department did on Feb. 9.
“They have adapted to being in that environment and having to prioritize what needs done and getting it done and they do it really well,” Raison said. “For me, I am just extremely proud of the work that they do and just being associated with them, having the opportunity to lead a department of quality firefighters that I have is just outstanding.”
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.