On Saturday, July 8, 2023, at 12:46 pm, the Chestertown Volunteer Fire Company was dispatched as mutual aid to the Church Hill VFC for the structure fire in the 1200 block of Prices Station Road. This is outside the small, unincorporated community of Price, which is located adjacent to the Blue Star Memorial Highway (U.S. 301). -See attached map- The response time from Chestertown is approximately 20 minutes.
Initially, our Tanker 6 was requested as part of the “Tanker Task Force” that incident command requested. Typically, a Tanker Task Force includes four fire department water tankers, and an engine (pumper) to establish a water source. A little later in the incident, at 12:54 pm, we were picked up for an engine. This was to fill out the assignment for equipment that was due and dispatched yet had not marked up as responding.
Once we arrived at the fire scene, our tanker remained in staging / stand by status. It’s water would not be required. Our Rescue-Engine was directed to the scene where our crew, relieving crews that had been operating in rugged heat and humidity conditions, assisted with overhaul operations. Overhaul is the time-consuming, labor-intensive process of making sure the fire is completely out.
One of our Chief officers was in the area when the initial call was dispatched. He was able to capture “pre-arrival” photographs of the fire. The photograph out the automobile windshield is his. This was from Price Station Road, approaching U.S. 301, which is just ahead. This view represents what we, as firefighters, frequently see when approaching a fire incident. In firefighting vernacular, we call this “In-the-Air”, meaning the fire has advanced to the point where smoke is visible from a distance. Typically, this causes the officer, destined to be the incident commander, to consider the resources they know are responding, and begin formulating an action plan to handle the incident. Out of mutual respect and courtesy, the senior officer from Church Hill VFC requested our officer retain command until the situation was under control. Pre-Arrival denotes before the arrival of any fire suppression equipment. His photographs also include some of the immediate post-arrival operations.
Correction: Chestertown VFC Deputy Chief Brad Russum, whom captured these photographs, was the first to to arrive. He assumed command, pending arrival of the incident commander from Church Hill VFC. Our apologies for the confusion.