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Indianapolis Athletic Club Fire-Fire


Detection of the Fire
Between 11:45 p.m and 12:00 a.m., building employees became aware of an odor of smoke in the lobby. As indicated above, neither smoke detectors nor sprinklers were installed in the area of fire origin and therefore, occupants had difficulty identifying the source of the smoke odor. None of the smoke detector systems gave the critical alarm. Occupant Response Employees began to investigate the smoke odor, but their attempts
to locate the fire were unsuccessful, and while they investigated conditions grew worse. Eventually, it became apparent that the smoke was coming from the air handling registers. After nearly fifteen minutes of searching, at 12:06 a.m., the desk clerk notified the fire department via 911. Meanwhile, the security guard notified the security detail sequestering the Tyson jury that the building might be on fire. Bailiffs guarding the jury hastily woke the twelve principal and three alternate jurors and escorted them from the building, carefully maintaining security during the evacuation. After the fire department arrived, it was discovered that one juror had not made it out with the rest. Firefighters successfully located and rescued this individual before the flash fire occurred. Other occupants became aware of the fire by various means. Some reported having heard the fire alarm sounding. Others reportedly became aware of the incident upon hearing the commotion associated with the fire department’s arrival. Although some of these occupants reportedly fled the building, firefighters were forced to rescue several from upper floors using aerial ladders. Several occupants who successfully evacuated were videotaped by news crews after their escape and reported taking inappropriate actions prior to their escape. One occupant said he took the elevator from his floor to the lobby, but upon arriving there realized he had forgotten

something of value and took the elevator back upstairs to return to his room.6 In his subsequent attempt to leave, recalling the advice that stairs not elevators should be used during a fire, he returned safely to the lobby via a stairway. Most occupants appeared to have dressed and collected some valuables before evacuating. Several occupants were rescued by firefighters using aerial ladders. To reach some seventh and eighth floor occupants, firefighters were forced to extend the reach of their aerial ladders with ground ladders. It should be noted that all reported occupant responses were consistent with those observed and reported at other similar incidents.7 Fire Department Response The Indianapolis Fire Communications Center received a 9-l-l call reporting the odor of smoke at 350 North Meridian Street at 12:06 a.m. and dispatched a first alarm assignment consisting of four engine companies, two truck companies, a district chief, and the division chief. At 12:10 a.m., Truck 7 arrived on the scene and took up a position on the Vermont Street (north) side of the building, reporting, “on the scene, nothing showing, will investigate."8 Initial Operations Arriving with the first companies, Division Chief Charles Williams entered the building with the firefighters from Engine and Truck 7 to investigate. Upon entering the lobby, firefighters confirmed the presence of a heavy smoke haze. The building fire alarm was reportedly sounding and the fire alarm control unit indicated a smoke detector activation in the basement laundry room. It is believed that smoke from the fire on the third floor activated a smoke detector in the basement, near the airhandling equipment. Engine 7 and Truck 7 firefighters proceeded downstairs to the second basement level to investigate. (No permanent 6 It was not determined during the investigation whether or not elevator recall activated. The fire department did not use Phase II Firefighters' & Service (elevator control) dring their operations.

record of the device activation was maintained and the location of the activated initiating device(s) could not be determined during the investigation. Due to the absence of controls to shutdown the air-handling system, recirculation of smoke could have activated a basement smoke detector.) See Table 1 on the following page for the first alarm company assignments. The smoke condition suggested that there must be a significant fire somewhere in the occupied high-rise building. District Chief Clyde Pfisterer (DC3) established a command post on the Vermont Street side of the building and assumed the role of Incident Commander. Division Chief Williams (Car 2) went inside to supervise interior operations. Rescue 13 established a medical sector on the Vermont Street side. And Captain Michael Spalding from Truck 7 — working inside with his crew, attempting
to locate the seat of the fire — was designated the Ventilation Sector Officer.
Firefighters spent several minutes unsuccessfully searching for a fire in the basement, sub-basement, and first floor areas. Additional crews from Engine 13 and attempting to locate the source of the smoke. Engine 13 was reportedly equipped with a high-rise pack consisting of rolled 1 3/4-inch hose, “hotel adaptor,” spanner wrench, and nozzle. The crews from Station 13 went to the second floor to investigate while the Station 7 companies continued to search the lower floors. In a room in the north central portion of the second floor, directly beneath the third floor bar, Truck 13 firefighters found water dripping from the ceiling. They thought the water might be coming from an operating sprinkler on the floor above them and proceeded to the third floor to investigate.9 As they entered the third floor from the monumental stair, a smoke haze hung in the elevator lobby and public corridor. Initial Attack
At approximately 12:17 a.m. -more than 30 minutes after building occupants first smelled smoke, the fire was located on the third floor. Truck 13 reported, “we have a working fire in the dumbwaiter on the third floor.” Firefighters from Engine 7, Truck 7, Engine 13, Truck 13, and 9 They were aware that the building was not fully sprinklered, but surmised that sprinklers could be present in limited areas.

 

 
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