Marshfield Public Safety Departments Praised for Response
OnFocus (Marshfield) – At approximately 9:45pm Thursday evening, Roger Greeneway was driving his classic 1978 Pontiac Grand Vill down Veterans Parkway when he noticed smoke coming from the dash. He pulled over near the intersection at Central Avenue, observed flames, and he and his passenger exited the vehicle.
“We were on our classic car cruise. Every Thursday night at 6:30, we leave Westside Motors in Auburndale and go somewhere different throughout the summer,” said Greeneway. “Last night, we went to Spencer and ate at Nutz Deep II. On the way back, it was raining really hard all the way from Spencer to Marshfield. Just as I was getting into town by Fleet Farm, I thought I smelled smoke. We got just a little bit farther and suddenly the whole car was full of smoke.”
Marshfield Police Department and six members of Marshfield Fire & Rescue responded quickly to the scene.
“They are a wonderful bunch. I couldn’t have gotten treated better. They were just wonderful,” said Greeneway. “We were wet and cold and they let us sit in one of the vehicles and put the heater on for us. It was a bad situation, but they made it very good. They all treated us great. They even gave me a ride back to my house.”
One lane of traffic was closed during the incident. The fire was contained to the passenger compartment of the vehicle. Investigators determined the fire was caused by a mechanical failure.
“Vehicle fires are not routine, but they are unfortunately fairly common,” said Deputy Fire Chief Jody Clements. “We do train for them, including how to approach a vehicle fire and how to extinguish them.”
He added that with vehicle fires, the greatest risk is the unknown, including what’s in the vehicle.
“The officer on-scene needs to do a good assessment on what’s in the vehicle, making sure we are able to attack it properly,” he said. “It can be anything in the vehicle so we want to make sure we do our assessment correctly and we’re protecting lives and keeping our firefighters safe.”
As vehicles becoming more complex, firefighters must exert extra caution when making their assessment.
“You could have a vehicle that runs on gasoline, diesel, a combo of electric, a hybrid, so it’s important to do a good assessment on the vehicle first so the tactics are safe,” said Clements. “Not only that, but making sure the human life, pets, and the environment is protected.”
For example, if the vehicle were transporting pesticides or other chemicals, it may be more healthy to allow the fire to burn than let it contaminate the environment with runoff. Each situation is unique and firefighters are trained to assess for different possibilities.
“Us doing a good assessment on that is going to be crucial. That’s the thing, keeping the public, ourselves, and the environment safe,” said Clements.
In this situation, the car was vintage, which actually diminished some of the hazards for those fighting the fire.
“Vintage vehicles – they are more of a basic vehicle that just have a frame, fuel, a 12volt
system…so there aren’t as many things to assess,” said Clements. “Some of the modern cars on the bumpers actually have crumple zones, shock reducing systems, so when they get heated they can actually explode. Things can come at you. Some of the more vintage cars actually have a little bit reduced hazard, but once again it depends on what they are hauling or what’s inside. Overall, they can intrinsically can be a little safer.”
Greeneway fixes vintage cars and the Pontiac was one of his favorites, so he’s hoping to salvage what he can. Most of all, he’s just happy everyone was safe.
“We take lemon and turn it into lemonade,” he said.
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