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Knowledge of home's layout helps firefighters effectively battle 2-alarm blaze

By Jennifer Stagg and Shara Park | Posted - Mar 18th, 2013 @ 11:37pm


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SALT LAKE CITY — Firefighters helped an elderly man escape his home in the Federal Heights area of Salt Lake City as it burned Monday morning. It turned out they were prepared for the job because of what they had done two years earlier.

An alarm company alerted emergency dispatchers to the fire in the 1300 East block of Tomahawk Drive, just north and west of "U" mountain, around 5:30 a.m.

"The first crews that arrived said they saw smoke from two block away," said Jason Asay of the Salt Lake City Fire Department. Neighbors reported flames were shooting from the roof.

As soon as he arrived at the home, Salt Lake City Fire Capt. Richard Boden knew his days of going door to door sharing fire safety tips had paid off.

Two years ago, he and his crew visited the same home. The 90-year-old homeowner graciously opened his doors and asked them to inspect both inside and outside.

"(I) remembered the gentleman who lives here, remembered the basic structure, what our access points are," Boden said.

So, before making the 1,000-foot hike to the home, firefighters already had a plan in place.

"We knew that the hydrant was some distance away from the home, and then having that set back away from the home (we knew) that we were going to take everything we needed to the home," Boden said.

As firefighters entered the home, they found the elderly man walking around inside and helped him get out.

"The crews went back in and grabbed him a robe and some shoes so he can stay a little bit warmer outside," Asay said.

Boden and the crews were also able to save the man's property and minimize the damage just to one spot on the outside of the home, in large part because of a preventative visit two years prior.

Investigators said the fire was mainly burning in the attic and may have started with an electrical problem.

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