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GFR responds to fire in commercial building under construction

Press release from Gainesville Fire Rescue

Today at 4:12 p.m., Gainesville Fire Rescue crews from Stations 1, 2, 5, and 9 were summoned to 100 NW 17th St., Hurley House, for a commercial building fire.

Workers were alerted to the fire by a working fire alarm system. Despite the building not yet being occupied, arriving crews found heavy smoke coming from the parking garage entrance. Firefighters from Gainesville’s Squad 1, which arrived within two minutes, were able to quickly locate the seat of the fire. Firefighters were aided by the building’s sprinkler system, which held the fire at bay.

Other arriving crews were able to interface with the building’s fire protection system and construction workers to ensure the fire wasn’t able to spread and that all workers were out of the building. Incident Commander Don Campbell attributed the minimal fire damage to “…the quick response of the fire crews and the working fire protection system.” All workers were able to safely exit the building, and no one was injured in the fire. The exact cause of the fire is still under investigation.

The fire department’s ability to interface with fire protection systems of “mega-structures” has become increasingly  important as the city continues to grow three-dimensionally. Assistant Fire Chief Shawn Hillhouse explains, “As the city continues to add multi-story buildings the size of city blocks, the fire department can’t just pull up to the front door and pull a hose inside any more.”

In fact, Gainesville Fire Rescue has been looking at how to redistribute some of the crews’ workload as firefighting becomes more complex, work intensive, and requires more and more pre-planning. Some ideas being explored by the department include the use of dedicated specialty vehicles for HazMat and Technical Rescue, the use of smaller “Quick Response Vehicles” to assist with EMS response, and the redistribution of Gainesville Fire Rescue’s “District Chiefs,” which serve as incident commanders on fires.

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The Fire Department’s concern with fire protection systems doesn’t start and end when there is a fire. Gainesville Fire Rescue has a team of fire inspectors that work with building owners, tenants, and local maintenance companies to ensure that these systems are in working order. In 2019 the City added an additional fire inspector bringing the total to five inspectors for the City’s 10,000 plus commercial buildings. The presence of a working smoke alarm in a home reduces the risk of dying in a fire by 50%; while the presence of home fire sprinklers reduces fire death by 81%. Gainesville Fire Rescue operates project “Get Alarmed” for families that need assistance in obtaining or installing smoke detectors. Gainesville Fire Rescue also invites both renters and builders to learn more about residential sprinkler systems. For more information contact Gainesville Fire Rescue’s Risk Reduction Bureau at 352-334-5065 or visit online at www.gfr.org

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