Greenfield Fire Chief grateful for no loss of life in Saturday's fire

GREENFIELD (WITI) -- Greenfield Fire Chief Jon Cohn is offering new details on a fire that broke out at an apartment complex in Greenfield on Saturday afternoon, March 1st. The fire displaced 15 families -- and prompted a large firefighter response.

The call for the fire, which broke out in the 7300 block of Southridge Drive in Greenfield came in around 1:00 p.m. Saturday.

Cohn says the Greenfield Fire Department received a call for smoke in the basement of the 16-unit complex. Crews arrived on scene and upgraded the alarm based on conditions (it was cold and snowing on Saturday) and the structure.

Two hose lines were immediately sent into the basement, while firefighters worked to evacuate residents that had not self-evacuated.

Cohn says firefighters in the basement encountered high heat and little to no visibility.

Cohn says basement fires are difficult for firefighters because they have to descend through heat that is rising, and oftentimes, basements offer little to no ventilation.

Cohn says faced with the structure's condition and confirmation that all human life was saved, the firefighting technique was changed from an offensive attack to a defensive attack.

This prolonged the fire fight, but the fire was eventually extinguished, with only a couple of minor injuries.

Cohn says at the scene several firefighters reported speaking personally with residents of the affected apartment complex -- who offered their thanks to the firefighters for working hard to knock this fire down -- and also protect the lives of those impacted.

"To the residents and community, thank you for recognizing and putting into perspective effort as compared to outcome. As firefighters, our top priority is rescuing others and we can forget about our own risk when all lives have been accounted for. As firefighters, we talk and train about our incident properties, but sometimes let pride cloud judgement with fatal firefighter results. Let the thanks and the gratitude of these residents resonate. Let effort outshine outcomes as the thank yous do exist, but are not always heart," Cohn said in a statement.

In his statement, Cohn also thanked assisting agencies -- and said he's grateful all of his firefighters were able to go home to their families following this fire.

The American Red Cross has assisted those affected by this fire -- and is continuing to do so.

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