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A decimating warehouse fire in Columbus, Ga. on May 24 seriously injured two firefighters when an explosion knocked them back.
According to the Ledger-Enquirer, the 100-year-old Burnham Warehouse on Railroad Avenue posed significant problems for firefighters battling the blaze.
Ricky Shores, fire Marshall of the Columbus Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services, said three firefighters were positioned on the warehouse's dock, dousing the flames, when a big explosion threw all three of them off their feet.
Of the three men, two were severely injured. Chris Burris sustained second-degree burns that he was treated for at The Medical Center in Columbus and subsequently released. David Smith, on the other hand, has remained hospitalized to receive treatment for his second-degree burns. Smith will also undergo a surgical procedure to correct a broken ankle.
"They had a job to do an[d] unfortunately they were injured," Jeff Meyer, fire chief, told the Ledger-Enquirer. "I can tell you they were in good spirits at the emergency room last night. We are going to do everything we can to support them."
The cause of the fire has yet to be determined, but Shores noted that it was a difficult fire to put out. The Burnham Warehouse building is narrow and long. Given the frequency of homelessness in Columbus, Shores was concerned about locating anyone who might be trapped inside. The nearby Norfolk-Southern rail line also needed to be shut down due to its proximity to the fire, according to the source.
A total of 12 emergency response units arrived on the scene around 10:22 p.m. By 7:00 a.m. the next morning, firefighters were still on the scene, spraying the smoldering coals of the destroyed structure. Warehouse fires such as this one can be prevented with the use of fire extinguishers and fire suppression systems. These systems are especially important for companies who are using aging infrastructure, such as old, repurposed industrial spaces like that of the Burnham Warehouse. Even just the installation of a fire alarm system that can detect a fire threat and alert the local authorities could significantly reduce the overall damage in a warehouse fire. With an alarm system, the response time by firefighters is expedited, increasingly the likelihood your assets and employees will be secured.
Industrial Safety News brought to you by Safety Systems Technology, Inc., leaders in fire and gas detection systems.