Winter Weather Report 2021

WINTER WEATHER REPORT 2021 HOW THE AUSTIN FIRE DEPARTMENT EXCELLED, AMAZED, AND IMPRESSED THE COMMUNITY WE SERVE

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TA B L E O F CON T E N T S

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A Message fromYour Fire Chief

Emergency Operations

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Logisitics

Wildfire, Technology, and Outreach

Training, Recruiting, and Risk Management

Prevention and Homeland Security

Written and produced by the Austin Fire Department’s Public Information Office.

© All photos herein are property of the Austin Fire Department and are protected under copyright. No permission is granted for any use without express written authorization by the Fire Chief.

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A ME S S AG E F R OM YOU R F I R E C H I E F

The members of the Austin Fire Department— both uniform and civilian—are some of the best in the fire service industry; of that, there is no doubt. But during the worst winter storm in Austin’s history, they rose to a level that, like the storm itself, was unprecedented. It’s impossible to capture every instance where they went above and beyond in deed and action to help our neighbors in need; frankly, many of them are undocumented because those doing them wanted no record of it since, in their words, “I was just doing my job”. And when we had to institute mandatory Added Time to ensure we had enough firefighters on every unit, not one of them said “I can’t stay.” Therefore, we’ve tried to encapsulate the efforts of our members into this “snapshot”, a moment in time that will not soon be forgotten by any of those who lived (and worked) through it. To each and every one of them I say, THANK YOU. Your efforts did not go unnoticed, unappreciated, or unvalued. You are selfless servants. You are the reason those we serve realize that, when they don’t know who else to call for help, they can call us…and we will be there. And to our community, thank you for the honor and privilege you have bestowed upon all of us at the Austin Fire Department to serve you. If we never see another event like “Snow-mageddon” in this millennium, it will be fine by me…and by you, too, I would guess. But if we do, you can rest assured that your Austin Firefighters will be there, ready to do what needs to be done. And then some. No matter what. I am honored and humbled to be their—and your—Fire Chief. Thank you for the trust you have placed in us and in me. Sincerely,

JOEL G. BAKER FIRE CHIEF

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EMERGENCY OPERATIONS From February 12 – 21, 2021, our firefighters responded to more than 5,500 calls for assistance. In addition to the “usual” business of dealing with fires and medical calls, our Operations’ personnel handled more broken water pipes, traffic incidents, alarm activations, wires down/arcing, and public service calls in 10 days than they do in an entire year. But that was just the tip of the iceberg (no pun intended)…

They taught citizens how to find—and turn off—their own water mains when there were more broken water pipes around the city than they could get to. They helped injured animals get to the vet when their owners couldn’t get their cars out of driveways. They charged oxygen delivery devices when patients were dangerously close to running out and couldn’t leave their homes. They evacuated and reintegrated residents into their high-rise tower when it became unsafe for them to stay there.

They pulled countless people in their cars out of ditches and then gave them rides home.

They changed flats, repaired tire chains, and provided gasoline to stranded motorists.

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They dealt with their own consequences of doing their best to get to work during the storm: some had to be pulled out of ditches by friendly bystanders, some had collisions involving their personal vehicles, and some even hitchhiked to get to their stations so that there would be enough firefighters on every unit to respond. And let’s not forget the hours and hours they spent on duty above and beyond their typical 24-hour shift: many worked 48, 72, 96—in some cases, even 120—hours straight to ensure those who needed help would be taken care of. And when they got off duty, they did more. Firefighter Aaron Hooser (Engine 7/A shift) was one of many of our firefighters who, after his shift ended, didn’t spend his down time resting; he spent it in his four-wheel-drive truck, rescuing individuals like 97-year-old Ruth Borinstein, who’d been stuck in her home for two days with no power or heat; the roads and her driveway were too icy for her to navigate, or for anyone in her family to try and come get her. Aaron and his girlfriend got to Ruth (and her two cats) and dropped them off safely at her granddaughter’s house. All told, our firefighters were able to transport about 100 people just like Ruth.

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“On the morning of February 17, Squad 38, Wildfire Squad 03, and ATCEMS Medic 19 and District Commander 02 (DC02) moved about 70 residents of the Renaissance-Austin senior living community to a warming area in the building as most of the building was without power. The ‘day room’ had heat and a fireplace. We got the elevator working (it had been disabled due to a Fire Protection System water leak) to move patients up and down floors to get to the warm area, and DC02 transported one critical patient.”

– Lieutenant Jonathan Fox (Engine 38/A shift)

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R B J R E S I D E N T S GO HOM E

On February 17, more than 100 low-income older and disabled residents of the Rebekah Baines Johnson (RBJ) Center in east Austin were evacuated by members of our department after their building entered more than 48 hours without power and diminishing food supplies. Some of the residents had to be carried down numerous flights of stairs so they could be transported by bus to a church shelter. Two days later, power and water were restored to the building so several Austin firefighters returned to help Center Staff move the residents back into their homes from the shelter where they’d been staying. The tower is run by the nonprofit Austin Geriatric Center, which provides affordable housing to especially vulnerable populations; approximately 150 individuals currently reside there. We were honored to be able to serve these folks in such a desperate time, and were happy we could go back to ensure their safe return home.

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A F I R E F I G H T E R ’ S P E R S P E C T I V E

If it’s hard for you to imagine what it must have been like to be a firefighter during the winter storm, let us give you some insight. Read on for a first-hand account from Lieutenant Brent Sjolseth (Engine 11/C shift): “I guess including late shift changes, I only worked 103 hours, and only 53 were consecutive during this week-long event. Many worked two or three shifts more than I did. This doesn’t even come close to a full representation of what crews dealt with… “I would say some challenges out of our control included, obviously, the power being out and then no drinkable water at the stations, and being unable to truly warm up between calls. A hot cup of coffee was a welcome sight. The lack of ambulances and other resources usually available made us become much more creative with our solutions. Ice forming on gear and equipment at fires was not something I’ve dealt with in the past. Absorbent (kitty litter) was worth its weight in gold, getting us unstuck―and other people unstuck―before, during, and after calls. Very thankful we had plenty of kitty litter, although sometimes it took hours and several incidents just to get to a restock station.”

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“The picture with a few guys and a tow strap was taken by one of my firefighters of the guys that helped him get out of being stuck on S. Lamar while trying to get to Station 11 from Station 45. If it wasn’t for them, he wouldn’t have made it to work. He wanted to give them credit for helping him.”

– Lieutenant Brent Sjolseth (Engine 11/C shift)

“Among the countless commendable acts of AFD firefighters in this disaster, I need to bring these two forward {Firefighters Keith Berry and David Hamilton (Engine 45/A shift)}. When so many could not make it to work, both of these firefighters, independently, having had to abandon their cars driving in, continued on. They each hitchhiked to Station 45. Firefighter Berry then drove the Brush Truck for 72 hours. I was blessed to work with guys like this these last few days, and feel proud of the effort and care they took. It’s great to be part of this; they cared for the public and each other.”

– Lieutenant Paul Rodden (Engine 47/B shift)

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S AV I N G T H E VAC C I N E S

With all that Old Man Winter threw at us, lest we not forget the pandemic that continued; COVID-19 didn’t care about all that snow and ice, so the battle to beat it goes on. So what to do when matters are further complicated with power outages and vaccines that must remain in a certain temperature range? On February 15 at approximately 7:30 a.m., B-shift Battalion Chief David Brietzke received a call from Division Chief Andre Jordan (who currently oversees our Risk Management section), asking Chief Brietzke to drive by one of our locations to see if it had power; there was a concern that the freezers storing our supply of COVID-19 vaccines might be without electricity. Upon Chief Brietzke’s arrival, he met up with AFD Lt. MaryAnn Hubbard, who had walked several miles through the ice and snow due to the extreme road conditions to do the same. Not surprisingly, the building in question was without power, so Chief Brietzke and Lt. Hubbard figured out a way to get inside so they could assess the situation. Via a FaceTime call with our Registered Nurse Supervisor, Christina Hwang— and in total darkness, mind you—Chief Brietzke and Lt. Hubbard managed to find the freezers. They had lost power, but the temperatures inside were still in range for the vaccines to be usable. Christina directed them on how to assemble three coolers with temperature probes, and they started the task of removing and packaging all of the vaccines into the transport containers. Once they were done, they had a total of three coolers and two pelican cases full of vaccines.

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After loading the containers into Chief Brietzke’s vehicle, Christina had to figure out where to send them. Next stop: the Mueller Complex to pick up Michelle Mirsky with Austin Public Health (APH) at her home; she held the keys to a location in east Austin, whose personnel had agreed to let us store the containers in their freezers. Unfortunately, upon arrival, we discovered that location was without power as well and the back-up generator wasn’t working either. After making numerous calls to see about getting either power restored to that building or a maintenance official to start the generator, the soonest anything could happen was several hours later. So that option was now off the table and time was running out. But our stop there was not a wasted one; turns out, they had seven freezers that were stocked with hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of the Moderna vaccine ready for arms in Austin and Travis County. This included more than 26,000 life-saving doses of the vaccine that were at risk of going to waste. Chief Brietzke called Dispatch looking for help, who sent the B-shift crew from Engine 7: Lt Lloyd Zmeko, Fire Specialist Ian Thompson, and Firefighters Dan Herman and Sean Thomas, who did a phenomenal job. They loaded two large transportation boxes, one large ice chest, two medium size boxes, and several smaller coolers with the vaccines and got them ready for transport. Meanwhile, Michelle, Christina, and Cassie DeLeon (also from APH) searched for a location to send all the vaccines. They contacted a woman named Amy who said she had room at her facility. Lt. Hubbard and Chief Brietzke went to pick up Amy at her home, and Engine 7 and Michelle went to meet them and offload the vaccines. Once they arrived, all of the boxes from both other locations fit into the freezers at the new spot and everything was kept in the required temperature range. This entire operation took almost four hours and came near the end of an already busy 24 hours for B shift.

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LOGISTICS It’s sometimes easy to forget what goes into keeping the “big red machine” running. Like all of the people behind the scenes—the civilian support staff—that do everything from handling the payroll to managing the myriad of technology to taking care of all the equipment that protects us from the unforeseen dangers we may face every time we step off the truck. Some examples of those came from our Logistics section, which includes Facilities, Operations’ Support, and Air Shops.

FAC I L I T I E S

Our facilities are our firefighters’ homes for 24 hours. Making sure they have safe, livable conditions under these kinds of extreme conditions is still critical, so our goals for all of the issues we dealt with were incident stabilization, damage control, and to get our stations running (and hot!) water as soon as possible. • The work order system was down for most of the storm, so activities were handled via word of mouth and on a most-needed basis. • From Monday, February 15 – Wednesday, February 17, our Facilities’ work force consisted of one individual, our General Maintenance Supervisor…who had no help. He started by prepping our trailer sites for the cold weather in hopes of keeping them in service, and minimizing any damage during the freeze. He then responded on his own exclusively to water main breaks, including to one in the truck room ceiling at Station 41, and then subsequent similar issues at Stations 23, 24, and 37. • On Thursday and Friday, the rest of the Facilities’ team was able to make it in to the city. They continued to respond to water main break emergencies; first up for their efforts were Stations 22, 30, 31, 39, 47, and 48. A plumber from the City’s subcontractor was loaned to us to assist as a technical expert, as the team went to handle these water-related emergencies. • On Saturday, our General Maintenance Supervisor responded to a broken hose bib at Station 16. He was able to cap this line and restore water to the facility.

In total, the team responded to more than 20 water-related calls at an equal number of stations. By the end of the week, all stations had running water, and only one was without hot water.

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O P E RAT I ON S ’ S U P P O R T

The Lieutenant who oversees our crews in Operations Support lives in Killeen. He came into work on Sunday, before the first storm arrived, figuring if he waited until Monday morning, he wouldn’t be able to make it. And he was right. His pre-emptive decision, however, found him sleeping at the shop for the week, but that’s just how he wanted it; he was able to make himself available 24 hours a day to assist with requests for equipment and materials. Throughout the weather, crews in Operations were unable to turn in reports on equipment that was missing, lost, or damaged. The week after the storm, Operations’ Support saw an increase of more than 300 percent in replacement requests versus a normal week. We supplied hundreds of feet of hose, couplings, and nozzles to assist with water access to various buildings and residential complexes. We provided our 4WD vehicles—as well as identifying and accessing all AFD 4WD vehicles— for operational response to the extraordinary call volume within the city. Several new Brush Trucks had arrived but had yet to be entered into the Central Fleet system; however, we were able to negotiate to have those units made accessible early to support Operations’ companies. Given the rapidly changing (and sometimes quickly deteriorating) weather conditions, we reported on the entire AFD response fleet throughout the multi-day storm. We tracked units out of service, as well as apparatus that needed mechanics to respond. Even before the storm subsided, we began coordinating with Fleet to assess and prioritize out-of-service apparatus to get them repaired and back on the road as quickly as possible. We lent our portable lighting and forklift to the water distribution efforts.

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A I R S HO P S

Firefighters simply can’t do their jobs without clean air to breathe, so going without wasn’t an option. Air Shops’ personnel coordinated with Operations’ Support to use their truck to deliver Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) bottles: the truck was stored inside, the fuel wasn’t frozen, and it was also already equipped with tire chains and 4WD. However, it could only hold about 40 bottles, so several trips had to be made to facilitate exchanges.

“In one instance, Engine 12 (E12) broke down on the way to a call, forcing it to be placed out of service. Later, a medical emergency occurred in the vicinity of the break down. Although out of service, E12 put themselves back into service and the crew walked to the call to preserve the availability of other units for response. On a separate event, Engine 12’s crew walked through the rain to a nearby fire station at 4:30 in the morning when the tire chains broke on the apparatus. They went to retrieve spare components to fix them and attempt to return to service.”

– Lieutenant Andrew Reyes (Engine 12/A shift)

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T H E A I R WE B R E AT H E

During an event like we just experienced, it’s important to remember that it’s not just the people you see on the fire trucks who are taking care of you. Our support personnel were hard at work all week, fixing issues at fire stations and trying to keep tire chains in service on our fire trucks so that our firefighters could continue doing what they do best: serving you. An example were our Air Shops’ personnel, who filled 460 bottles; in a “normal” week, they might fill 100-150 of these that carry the life-saving air we need to enter a hazardous environment. One of those team members even fashioned himself a cot and slept at the shop the entire week in order to help keep that part of our department running. The folks on the fire trucks are the ones you might see most often, but there are many, many others behind the scenes working to ensure we are ready to serve you, no matter what Mother Nature may dish out!

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WILDFIRE, TECHNOLOGY, AND OUTREACH You may be asking yourself just what in the world wildfire resources could have to do with the worst winter storm in Austin’s history; those two things seem like the very definition of opposites. But then you’d be surprised to learn that once all that snow and ice melts, the dead fuel left behind is just one spark away from a wildfire waiting to happen. So our Wildfire Division had all hands on deck, helping to not only mitigate that disaster before it starts but also supporting our Emergency Operations’ personnel. From February 12 – 21, 2021, they: • Rostered and stood up two Wildfire Squads for seven days to assist as a saw module, clearing and removing trees that were blocking roadways so that first responders could get to emergency incidents, as well as responding to certain calls to allow more bandwidth for frontline Engines. Those included: o Structure fires and mid-rise alarms; o Broken water pipes and alarm activations; and o Transporting persons experiencing homelessness to shelters and warming centers. • Assisted with developing multiple contingency plans on how Austin Public Health would adjust vaccination operations due to winter storm delay. • Provided equipment to hospitals in conjunction with Travis County STAR Flight partners. Took pumps, tanks, and hoses to hospitals to provide backup water systems in the absence of normal water supply. • Worked in the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to assist with planning and operational concerns for water shortages for firefighting and community hospitals. Also coordinated with the City of Austin’s Public Works department for operations, and vehicle and equipment needs. • Provided wildfire vehicles and apparatus across Austin to fill in for out-of-service AFD Operations’ apparatus. • Provided command trailer to AFD’s Robotics Emergency Deployment (RED) Team for use at the various water Point of Distribution (POD) sites. • AFD’s GIS Analyst supported the City’s GIS team at the EOC to assist with mapping various citywide needs.

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I MP R OV I S I N G A S TA N D P I P E / F I R E F I G H T E R AMB E R A DAM S

“Snow-mageddon 2021” created some interesting challenges for our crews, but as is their way, they met them head-on with ingenuity, as they figured out ways to mitigate the issues before them while ensuring they solved the problem for you. One example came when the B-shift crews from Engines 2, 4, 7, and Ladder 1 had to improvise a standpipe at a fire because the building had no working fire pump or standpipes. In case you aren’t familiar with those terms, mid-rises (large apartment buildings in Austin that are usually around five stories) have a fire pump that is used to bump the water pressure in the event of a fire; this ensures the pressure in the building is high enough to run the sprinkler system and hopefully, put the fire out before we arrive. The standpipe system also runs off this pump and is one of a few options firefighters have in getting water on the fire. But because of the winter storm, none of these were working in the building at the time of the blaze. So crews made this improvised standpipe (yellow box in the photo) to supply water to fight it. The hose was lowered out of the window of the building and connected straight to the truck, bypassing all of the issues the building currently had at the time. Then there’s Firefighter Amber Adams, who normally rides as part of the B-shift crew of Engine 49. But with all the downed and broken trees across town and not enough people able to get out and help clear roads for emergency crews, she and several others became Wildfire Squad 3, and went around sawing trees to help ensure first responders could get where they needed to go. Yes, we fight fires...but we do a WHOLE lot more every day, especially when the situation calls for it.

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Our Dispatch personnel may have been the busiest people in our entire department: they processed two months’ worth of calls in five days and more than 14,500 calls in just 10 days; in some cases, they were answering more than 100 calls per hour! To handle the enormous call volume and ensure each one could be answered, we staffed up to 13 consoles for almost the entirety of the event, providing an average of 4+/- extra personnel per shift to ensure all dispatchers had rest periods. We also supported the EOC’s efforts by providing a Communications liaison. And our Business Technology experts were on hand to assist with coordinating any repairs of internet outages at AFD facilities, an important asset when you have personnel who work in emergency response 24 hours a day.

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H E L P I N G P I C K U P T H E P I E C E S

The A-shift crew from Engine 5 went back to this building on E. 12th when they returned to duty to assist the contractor and residents in securing it. This group was part of the team, alongside Quint 27’s A-shift crew, that rescued three people on Wednesday from this home under extreme fire conditions. Tragically, those three―a 91-year-old woman, a 58-year-old man, and a 54-year-old woman― all perished.

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TRAINING, RECRUITING, AND RISK MANAGEMENT Education Services is typically busy running our Cadet Training Academy, and managing our massive Continuing Education and Professional Development programs. But during the winter storm, all efforts were focused on helping each other and the community we serve. Specifically in this area, those included:

• One Field Training Officer (FTO) was put in charge of an Operations’ apparatus, thus lessening the overall burden on staffing for two shifts. • Another FTO assisted the RED Team in flying over the Onion Creek water distribution center. • AFD personnel coordinated the disconnection and preparation of a shower trailer from AFD’s Training Center at Shaw Lane to the warming location at the Palmer Events Center so those in need would be able to enjoy a hot shower. • Having our cadets from Class 130 assist with water distribution at two sites.

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C A D E T S D I S T R I B U T E WAT E R

Our 16 cadets from Class 130 weren’t content to sit on the sidelines while the rest of our department did whatever they could to help the citizens of Austin during the winter storm; they wanted to do their part as well. Modeling their class motto of “Service Over Self”, they split up into two teams on February 24 to assist with water distribution at two of the locations around town. We’re incredibly proud of their desire to jump in with both feet and get involved, and are excited to see them in fire stations around the city now that they’ve graduated.

We also worked in partnership with other City departments to stand up a central fixed distribution hub at the Travis County Exposition Center to provide drinking water to nine local Priority Distribution Centers (PODs). AFD worked and managed the Expo Center from February 19 – 21 and during that time, we: • Received 67 trucks; • Unloaded 1,356 pallets of water, equating to 110,190 cases (2,653,140 bottles) of water; • Coordinated and began water distribution to PODs on February 20, including 224 pallets (19,033 cases) of water; and • Coordinated and began water distribution to PODs on February 21, including 336 pallets (21,984 cases) of water.

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H E L I CO P T E R WAT E R

As the City continued its water distribution program, the Austin Fire Department was just one of several partners working throughout the day and night to unload 40 tractor trailer trucks and distribute more than 55,000 thousands of cases of water across Austin to Priority 1 and 2 locations, as well as helping ensure all Point of Distribution locations were continually restocked. But there’s always a unique problem to be solved with these types of operations and this one is no exception. On February 21, we learned that our colleagues in Travis County ESD #1, specifically the city of Jonestown, was without water and no trucks were able to get in. So our C-shift crews from Engines 26 and 40 worked with Travis County STAR Flight to get them water, loading up approximately 80 cases from the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) over the course of several hours and round trip flights to get those folks taken care of.

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PREVENTION AND HOMELAND SECURITY Our Special Operations’ personnel have specialized training and equipment to resolve unique issues. But the winter storm of 2021 was something even they hadn’t imagined. However, they weren’t hindered by the challenge, they embraced it, just like everyone else in the department. They built and rebuilt tire chains from scratch, helped clear double jack-knifed big rigs on an overpass, used 35-foot ladders on a three-story apartment chimney fire, and hiked hills when their apparatus wouldn’t make it. Just like our personnel from Ed Services, our Spec Ops’ staff also coordinated the use of their shower trailer as well, placing theirs at the warming location at the Austin Convention Center. Two of our Aircraft Firefighting and Rescue (ARFF) units—as well as several of our Search and Rescue (SAR) units (4x4 capable)—were all activated to provide more additional response apparatus during the storm; using those vehicles helped handle lower priority calls so frontline units could stay in service for higher priority emergency incidents. Spec Ops’ staff ensured those SAR vehicles also had MultiRae and Sensit monitors to better mitigate the numerous hazardous conditions to which they were responding. AFD’s Austin Regional Intelligence Center (ARIC) representative not only assisted with the needs of the Public Safety and Infrastructure branches, but was instrumental in helping facilitate the needs of our personnel with regards to water and toilet issues at AFD locations; acting as the liaison between our Dispatch section and infrastructure stakeholders for 911-reported water main breaks, energy issues, transportation, etc.; assisting other agencies with such items like lighting and one-off water needs for critical facilities; and facilitating law enforcement’s presence at AFD facilities as necessary.

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D U P L E X F I R E / G A S L E A K S

Amongst all the thousands of broken water pipes, stranded motorists, and various other public service calls we handled, there was the “usual” business of fires, etc., to mitigate. The winter storm exacerbated these issues, though: on Tuesday, February 16, a duplex fire was one of 49 blazes we dealt with that day. Upon their arrival, C-shift crews found a duplex with one side involved; the fire had started in the chimney and spread to the attic. To add insult to injury, crews encountered frozen valves on the engine pumps and had to get creative in delivering water to the hoselines. Eventually, they were able to put two hoselines in place and fought the fire offensively, keeping it from spreading to the other side of the duplex. Less than 24 hours later, A-shift crews were out in the early morning hours of Wednesday, February 17―with temperatures close to the single digits―dealing with one of the more than 25 calls we received that day about possible gas leaks/odors. This particular one turned out to be an actual leak that was underneath an iced-over bridge above a running creek, which meant our crews couldn’t shut off the gas. Since there were several houses in a potential “hot zone”, we took the proactive approach and evacuated them. We also used the winch on our Battalion 6 vehicle to drag the neighbors’ cars about 50 feet away from the area so they could be safely started (without any danger of igniting the gas!). Our crews shut off electricity to the affected houses and then used the winch to remove another car so our partners at Texas Gas Service would be able to quickly access the leak when they arrived.

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The RED team also spent three days working alongside ATCEMS, providing live aerial video feeds of several of the water PODs back to the EOC. Speaking of the EOC, that’s a huge undertaking in and of itself, with multiple agencies and departments from across the City and County all working together over the course of hours (or in this case, days) to solve problems that keep coming, one after another. AFD coordinated with multiple other public safety agencies, the Travis County Fire Emergency Services Districts (ESDs), as well as a whole host of other entities—both in the public and non-profit sectors—to address issues as they arose. Some examples of that work included: • The AFD EOC Rep fielded dozens of calls from Dispatch related to broken water pipes across the city, called in from AFD Operations’ units. Those were routed to Austin Water’s Dispatch personnel for processing. • Calls came in from the Shift Commander and Dispatch about icy road conditions on overpasses and highways. Those were routed to Public Works and/or the Texas Department of Transportation for assistance with sanding and road treatments. • Water was ordered for fire stations so firefighters who were on duty would have it to drink; many were out of potable water for days and/or there was an active boil water notice. • The AFD EOC rep continuously coordinated with the Logistics Chief on fire station needs (e.g., water, electricity, fuel), and forwarded those to the appropriate City departments.

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D I A LY S I S C L I N I C S Just as COVID-19 vaccines can’t wait for snow and ice to melt, neither can dialysis patients. So on February 20, some of our personnel spent a number of hours working alongside our partners from North Hays County Fire Rescue (NHCFR) to get three dialysis clinics up and running. Five firefighters from NHCFR brought two water tenders—this particular type of firefighting apparatus specializes in the transport of water and each holds several thousand gallons—while we provided the hose and fittings to make the connection work between the tender and the clinics. This collaborative effort across jurisdictions took a couple days’ effort to coordinate but it was well worth it; all three clinics were able to start seeing critical patients immediately.

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As we wrap up this report and this very small sample of stories from the winter storm of how #ourmissiongoesbeyondourname, we want to leave you with one more: Firefighter Mitch LaMonte (Engine 6/A shift) and his crew had just finished shutting off the water from one of the 145 broken water pipe calls they and their fellow firefighters across the city would make during their shift on February 25―preventing a parking garage from flooding and numerous cars along with it―when a bystander captured this sweet moment between Firefighter LaMonte and Winnie the puppy. We echo the sentiment; we love you, Austin. There are so many more tales of the heroic efforts by the men and women of the Austin Fire Department—both uniform and civilian—who go above and beyond to serve you. But that’s what we signed up for when we committed ourselves to a life of public service. And it is our honor and privilege to do so. We don’t expect, ask for, nor want anything in return.

Well…except maybe the occasional random puppy snuggle.

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4201 ED BLUESTEIN BLVD., AUSTIN, TX 78721 512.974.0130 • FIREPIO@AUSTINTEXAS.GOV WWW.AUSTINFIREDEPARTMENT.ORG

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