With the retirement of David P. Orth as Deputy Fire Chief Dec. 16, Gil Dong assumed the high profile slot as deputy chief and department spokesperson.
Five days later, the new deputy chief found himself looking at two fires which began less than an hour apart and which included a dramatic rescue.
The first call came at 3:13 a.m. on the 21st from a home in the 3000 block of Benvenue Avenue.
“The crews found a couple on the roof,” Dong said. “They had been trapped because the fire started at the base of the stairs.”
The firefighters plucked the couple from their perch, then set to work battling the flames, which were quickly extinguished. The cause of the fire, which did an estimated $10,000 in damage, was traced to a common firefighter’s nemesis: belongings piled atop a floor heater.
“We get people who move out here who aren’t familiar with how floor heaters work, so we get fires like this,” Dong said.
But what was working right was the smoke detector that alerted the residents to the fire in time to make their escape and call for help.
“That’s my safety message for the day,” said the new deputy chief.
Less than 45 minutes after the first blaze, a call from an alarm company sent engines rolling to an apartment building in the 2800 block of Derby Street, where firefighters discovered a small fire in a studio unit.
“The other residents were awakened by their smoke detectors,” Dong added.
That blaze did about $5,000 in damage, he said.