Firefighters Dispatched for (2) Brush Fires Simultaneously
Peters Township, PA - Shortly after 3PM on Saturday, March 5th, the Peters Township Fire Department was dispatched for (2) Brush Fires on opposite ends of our township - one in McMurray, and the other in our Venetia sector. Saturday proved to be a beautiful day with temperatures reaching the 70s and many of our residents cleaning up their yards, and burning yard debris that had accumulated over the winter. The problem with burning this past Saturday, were the moderate wind gusts that we experienced.
How We Respond to Simultaneous Calls
Depending on the day of week and time of day, responding for simultaneous calls on opposite ends of our coverage area can be difficult. Our department operates with a minimum of (2) firefighters on duty 24/7/365, ensuring an immediate response to any emergency dispatched. Monday through Friday daylight, a minimum of (3) firefighters are on duty, with the addition of the Fire Chief and Deputy Chief. These numbers can increase based on volunteer duty shifts and availability of part-time firefighters.
On Saturday, only (2) firefighters were on duty and responded to the first call dispatched in McMurray. The additional fire dispatched approximately a minute later was handled in time by off-duty volunteer and career firefighters that responded to the station from their homes. Additional firefighters that responded from home were called out to the McMurray Incident for additional manpower and water.
Brush Fire Endangering Homes
The crew responding to the McMurray Fire arrived to find a hillside well-involved with fire that had started at the base of the hill and was moving toward a line of homes at the top of the hill. Brush fires involving hillsides can grow quickly because fire will naturally move vertically. When moderate wind gusts as experienced on Saturday are added to this equation, fire spread happens rapidly.
The initial response crew requested additional resources and began attempts to suppress and contain the fire as much as possible until additional units arrived. Additional fire apparatus arrived on scene and began containment from the top of the hill, ensuring safety for those residents and homes. Firefighters operated on scene for approximately (3) hours, using a few thousand gallons of water to extinguish the fire, and ensure it was completely out before clearing the scene.
While operating at this incident, the department was also dispatched for two medical emergencies in the township, handled by two of our crews.
In all, 18 firefighters, including the Chief, Deputy Chief, and Assistant Chief responded to handle these incidents.
How Simultaneous Calls Will be Handled in 2023 and Beyond
As our community has grown, so has our call volume. In 2021, 25% of emergency calls for the Peters Township Fire Department overlapped with another. That means that we were being dispatched for an emergency call while already operating at another incident 25% of the time.
In 2020, Peters Township Council and Administration began the process of exploring the need and location for a third fire station. Currently, the township is covered by two fire stations, one of which is fully staffed 24/7 on East McMurray Road. While this staffing ensures an immediate response for emergencies, response times to our fastest growing residential neighborhoods in Venetia can be significant. Pictured to the right is a rendering of future Fire Station #3, which will be located on Bebout Road toward the intersection of Venetia Road. If approved, additional staffing at this station will allow us to handle simultaneous calls immediately, without waiting for off-duty firefighters to respond from home and reduce response times for Venetia significantly.
Open Burning Reminders
Peters Township has a defined ordinance for Open Burning. As we enter spring, we know our residents will continue to prepare their yards and may choose to burn yard debris in the process. You can access the ordinance for open burning here.
- Open Burning is allowed Wednesday through Saturday from 9am - 3pm
- Burning of garbage, leaves, leaf waste, grass clippings is is not permitted
- Burning of construction materials including lumber, or any material coated with rubber, plastic, or petroleum based products is not permitted
- Fires must be attended at all times
Recreational fires are permitted at any time, should not be within 50-feet of a structure, and must be attended by an adult at all times.
If you have any questions about the burning ordinance you can contact PTFD at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-941-4176!