New fire procedures help save Cedar City furniture store

Cedar City Fire Department responded to a structure fire Thursday at Rocky Mountain Furniture, 174 W. 200 North, Cedar City, Utah, Feb. 4, 2016 | Photo by Carin Miller , St. George News

CEDAR CITY — The implementation of a new four-man engine company in January helped save a community business from flames before the fire could become significant enough to do any serious damage Thursday afternoon.

Cedar City Fire Department responded to a structure fire Thursday at Rocky Mountain Furniture, 174 W. 200 North, Cedar City, Utah, Feb. 4, 2016 | Photo by Carin Miller , St. George News
Cedar City Fire Department responded to a structure fire Thursday at Rocky Mountain Furniture, 174 W. 200 North, Cedar City, Utah, Feb. 4, 2016 | Photo by Carin Miller , St. George News

Cedar City Fire Department and Gold Cross Ambulance were dispatched to Rocky Mountain Furniture, 174 W. 200 North, at 12:50 p.m. on reports of fire jumping from the incinerator inside the building.

“When I arrived, we had black smoke coming from the loading dock,” Cedar City Fire Marshal Mike Shurtz said. “It was just contained into this area; it’s kind of a loading dock and incinerator room.”

The owner of the store told firefighters he had been loading the incinerator with boxes and pallets when the flames jumped from the incinerator and ignited inside the back room, Shurtz said.

Thursday’s fire call was not the first one Cedar City Fire Department has had from Rocky Mountain Furniture, Shurtz said. This is the third or fourth time he can recall having to respond to the business because of its incinerator.

Cedar City Fire Department responded to a structure fire Thursday at Rocky Mountain Furniture, 174 W. 200 North, Cedar City, Utah, Feb. 4, 2016 | Photo by Carin Miller , St. George News
Cedar City Fire Department responded to a structure fire Thursday at Rocky Mountain Furniture, 174 W. 200 North, Cedar City, Utah, Feb. 4, 2016 | Photo by Carin Miller , St. George News

“They’ve got a great big oven that they burn their garbage in,” he said. “We had another one a couple of years ago that was a chimney fire with smoke coming out the top — they’ve filled their building full of smoke a couple of times.”

The boxes and pallets in the back room of the building caught fire this time, he said, and climbed some of the walls in the back room.

Rocky Mountain Power was called to the scene to disconnect power lines from the building as a result of melted wires inside the structure, Shurtz said.  

Based on his preliminary knowledge of the incident, he said, there was no damage to the infrastructure of the building; something, he said, that was a direct result of the newly established four-man engine company.

Cedar City Fire Department relied on a six-man engine company in years past, Shurtz said, explaining that a six-man company became problematic because only four firefighters would be at the station at any given moment.

“In the past what we’ve done when we’d get a page,” he said, “is one of those people who were there would take our radio, our communications and head to the scene. The others would go and get on the truck and wait for three volunteers to come.”

Cedar City Fire Department responded to a structure fire Thursday at Rocky Mountain Furniture, 174 W. 200 North, Cedar City, Utah, Feb. 4, 2016 | Photo by Carin Miller , St. George News
Cedar City Fire Department responded to a structure fire Thursday at Rocky Mountain Furniture, 174 W. 200 North, Cedar City, Utah, Feb. 4, 2016 | Photo by Carin Miller , St. George News

All of the waiting slowed response time, allowing fires to grow. The Rocky Mountain Furniture fire is the third fire this year that has been put out “within the magic window” of time to keep a fire from becoming significant, Shurtz said.

“We got here within that first three minutes,” he said. “Fire tends to grow exponentially after about the fourth minute.”

As a fire starts to consume oxygen it will double, triple and then quadruple in size until it is extinguished or burns itself out.

The idea behind switching to a four-man engine company is to reduce agency response time substantially enough to make a difference, Shurtz said. So far,  he has been very pleased with the results of the change.

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Email: cmiller@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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3 Comments

  • Proud Rebel February 4, 2016 at 8:00 pm

    Interesting, here in Dixie we can’t even burn our yard debris without getting a “permit.” And yet a business in Cedar City has an enclosed incinerator where they burn all their trash? And they have had other problems with it causing fire?
    Something is very wrong with this picture. . .

  • .... February 5, 2016 at 2:44 am

    Well with all those meth lab’s in cedar city a burning permit makes no sense

  • Rex February 5, 2016 at 10:10 am

    Positive story! Kudos to fire department!

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