The Maplewood Fire Department is reporting that an ambulance was destroyed due to an engine fire while parked in the Maplewood Fire Department Headquarters building on Dunnell Road late on Sunday, September 27.
Firefighters were able to remove the other vehicles from the headquarters, avoiding damage. They also were able to limit the fire damage to the building. In addition, the firefighters who exited the building through heavy smoke were evaluated at St. Barnabas Medical Center and “all tests for carbon monoxide poisoning were negative and no other injuries were reported.”
Fire Chief Michael Dingelstedt reported that the Fire Department and Township “are in the process of completing a memorandum of agreement to use an ambulance from Union FD as a back-up until we are able to purchase a new one for our department.”
The Fire Department is continuing to investigate the cause of the engine fire.
Here is the full press release from the Maplewood Fire Department:
On Sunday, September 27 at 11:34 p.m., Maplewood firefighters were tasked with extinguishing a fire at Fire HQ on Dunnell Rd. The duty crew reported that they were completing reports when they heard a popping noise. As they went to investigate, the fire alarms activated. They found the interior stairs to the apparatus floor charged with smoke and were unable to exit the second floor by stairs. As firefighters were moving to the fire pole on the other side of the building, they radioed dispatch that there was a heavy smoke condition at HQ and requested that Irvington FD respond immediately with one engine and one truck. As they slid down the pole onto the apparatus floor, they encountered a heavy smoke condition with visible fire in the area of the ambulance bay. Despite a significant amount of smoke from the fire, they were able to pull the remaining apparatus out of the building prior to beginning firefighting operations. After removing the other vehicles, they found the ambulance was burning and the fire was beginning to extend to the ceiling above it. Firefighters were able to prevent the fire from extending to the second floor as they began suppression efforts.
After the fire was extinguished, the five firefighters assigned to HQ were sent to Saint Barnabas Hospital to be evaluated for smoke inhalation since they escaped from the second floor and exited the building through smoke. Fortunately, all tests for carbon monoxide poisoning were negative and no other injuries were reported.
The fire appears to have started in the engine compartment of the ambulance and investigators are working to determine the exact cause. Although the ambulance is a total loss, the on-duty crew made a tremendous effort to remove the apparatus from the building and extinguish the fire before it extended further into the building. The majority of damage was moderate smoke damage throughout the building. Without their efforts, damage would have much more significant.