Tag Archives: fire department

Update on Elkhorn Kitchen fire was from grease build up in duct loss $500,000-$1million

ELKHORN—The fire that ripped through Abell’s Restaurant and Lounge on Friday morning caused between $500,000 and $1 million damage, Elkhorn Fire Department Chief Rod Smith said.

The cause of the fire at N 6427 Highway 12 appears to be accidental, Smith said. The findings are preliminary because the investigation by the fire department and insurance company is not complete.

The fire began at about 4:50 a.m. in the restaurant’s kitchen and probably was fed by grease built up through the years in the ceiling and ventilation spaces, Smith said earlier.

Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents looked over the damage Friday.Smith said having federal agents at the scene is not unusual after a commercial fire with a large loss.

“It doesn’t mean just because they’re here it’s a criminal investigation,” Smith said. “It’s just a big dollar loss, and they have more ability and more resources to tap into for that type of investigation and loss.”

The business is owned by Ryan Ahearn and Mike Kapitan. Smith said the owners are waiting for a final damage total before deciding whether to rebuild.

“They haven’t made any decisions at this time as they don’t know what the effects and loss … They’re looking at their options,” Smith said.

At the scene of the fire Friday, several people said Abell’s was the local gathering place.The Red Cross is helping two families who lived in apartments attached to the business, Smith said.

Massive blaze breaks out at popular pub spread threw Duct work

A blistering blaze ripped through a popular pub in Midtown’s Theater District Saturday, authorities said.

The fire erupted in the kitchen of Connolly’s Pub and Restaurant on W. 45th St. near Seventh Ave. at 5:32 p.m. and quickly spread through the building’s duct work, officials said.

More than 100 firefighters were called in to put out blazes in both the first and third floors, officials said.

The fire was deemed under control just after 7 p.m.

Workers and patrons ran out of the bar before the fire spread too far.

One firefighter was treated at the scene for a minor injury, officials said.

A second man was also injured, but refused medical aid.The FDNY was investigating what sparked the fire Saturday night.

Kitchen hood and duct fires in high-rise buildings need to be cleaned


When fire department people respond to a commercial kitchen range hood fire with fire possibly extending into the exhaust duct above in a high-rise building, the two primary considerations that must be determined while the fire is being brought under control are:

  1. Where does the duct end?
  2. Where does it penetrate the floor above if it does not discharge directly outside the building?

What is typically lacking in these fires is quick access to accurate information about these two concerns. Even if the chief engineer is available and not off duty, or just off premises, chances are good he will not know one or both of these answers.

Drawings must be retrieved from the blueprint room and read. Unfortunately, this usually proves impractical due to not being able to find these drawings or read the blueprints which are very difficult to read/understand.

Inevitably, fire crews must search for the ductwork, which usually results in increased damage to the building.

Thermal imaging cameras and a user ­friendly drawing of the building ductwork can be tremendously effective tools in quickly and effectively gaining full control over the incident.

Case Study 1

The New York City Fire Department responded to a working restaurant fire where the restaurant was well-involved on arrival and fire was extending throughout the exhaust duct from built-up grease due to lack of proper and effective cleaning of the duct.

The restaurant was attached to the side of a 45-story office building, extending out about 40 feet toward the side street. While the fire was being fought by multiple alarm companies, the incident commander accessed the building’s pre-fire plan, which the owner had done voluntarily.

The ventilation diagram showed that the kitchen duct did not pass up above the restaurant and out the roof of the one-story building.

It actually went up into the ceiling void space, turned 90 degrees and passed all the way through the 45-story office building into another one-story restaurant on the opposite side of the block, then turned 90 degrees again and penetrated the roof, where it terminated with an exhaust hood enclosure.

Fire had raced the entire length of the duct and ignited this enclosure on the roof of the second building a block over from the first fire building.

The incident commander noted where the duct traveled and terminated just as fire began to show from the other restaurant’s roof. Crews quickly chased down and effectively extinguished all fire in the shafts and roof enclosure while the main fire was continuing to be fought.

The fire was brought under control within the hour, but the first fire building was nearly destroyed and shortly afterwards razed. The fire never extended into the high-rise building itself, aside from the shaft running horizontally through the first-floor ceiling void.

Case Study 2

The Chicago Fire Department responded to a report of heavy smoke showing from the roof of a 40-story twin-tower office complex which also happened to house the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. The complex was fully occupied at the time.

Just as fire crews began arriving, both towers began to evacuate all floors due to the building security and engineering staff panicking a bit because of the heavy volume of smoke pushing out the roof of one of the towers.

I was in Chicago that day, meeting with the building owner representative several blocks away when an excited secretary charged into the room announcing the fire. We decided to walk down and check it out, as two alarms of equipment began arriving on scene.

The crews were met with thousands of tenants streaming out of the lobby, onto the sidewalks and even the street fronting the building.

The first-due chief was not happy about the buildings being dumped without his approval.

The fire started in a restaurant directly beneath the trading floor for “the Mere,” with fire extending into the exhaust duct. These occupies were situated between the two towers comprising the complex.

The smoke everyone saw was the grease burning in the kitchen exhaust duct and discharging out the roof of the south tower.

The chiefs at the command post knew me and I volunteered to find the engineer and chase down the heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system drawings to decide exactly where the duct penetrated  (horizontally and vertically) the south tower to help fire crews assigned to checking extension.

The fire was quickly controlled in the restaurant, but the still ­heavy volume of smoke coming out the roof meant we still had fire in the ductwork.

After gaining access to the necessary print and seeing where the duct traveled in the void spaces, I went with a crew up to the second floor of the south tower and entered a storage room, pointing to where the general area was that the duct should  be.

The crew brought all the proper equipment to do the job, including a thermal imaging camera. They were very experienced firefighters and had a good working knowledge of how to properly use the camera.

As ceiling tiles were being carefully removed, they immediately found the duct and determined there was fire in the duct at that scene. They set up a stepladder, opened up the duct and easily extinguished the fire with a portable extinguisher.

It did not seem that the fire was extending vertically into the office tower’s upper floors. With the use of the camera, much damage was avoided and the entire fire was brought under control within 30 minutes. It showed me how effective a tool these cameras can be on these types of fires.


The challenging aspect of fighting these fires is trying to figure out where the duct terminates and where it penetrates various spaces.

Some exhausts may discharge directly outside the building at that floor, some may travel up a few floors and discharge outside the tower at a level well above the kitchen, while others travel the entire length of the building up and out the roof.

Depending how much grease is built up in these ducts and how much of it is burning, these fires can be either rapidly handled very early into the fire or they can turn into multiple-alarm, raging fires if the fire shows in multiple points and/or extends out of the duct through a crack or open crease in the duct, allowing fire to leave the shaft and enter the building it is housed in.

It must be noted that with this occurring, even in a “fully sprinkler building” (very loose statement), it will be breaking out in void spaces where there likely will be no fire suppression systems present.

Fire crews must find and fight these fires manually. If these ducts pass through a ceiling void that is also used as an open plenum return, this may present an extra problem if the fire is pulled back toward the core by the HVAC system, while feeding on plenum wiring.

Not all buildings have return duct detectors that will shut fans should smoke be present in these shafts, plus there is not always a guarantee the system will indeed shut down anyway, as systems do fail through lack of maintenance or testing, even improper installation of key components.

A well-constructed duct is well-suited to containing fire, but where the sections connect can be avenues for fire travel outside the duct if they are not properly sealed.

Many times, building owners hire a professional cleaning firm to clean the ducts and clear the grease built up over time. However, too often, a poor job is done, resulting in a continual build up until one day the temperature is reached where the grease ignites and fire erupts.

This is especially true when the duct is difficult to clean due to many turns and elbows. Maintenance is vital to preventing fires in these shafts.

How to Identify Phony Fire Inspectors

How to Identify Phony Fire Extinguisher Inspectors

Creative custom signs can be a good way to let fake inspectors know that you’re on to them.

In recent years, cities throughout the country, from California to New Jersey, have become plagued by phony fire extinguisher inspectors.

The con is simple. First, pretend to be a fire extinguisher inspector or firefighter by looking the part. Then, fake an inspection on each of the fire extinguishers present in a workplace.

After that’s done, ask the workplace to pay a bill or even send the office a bill and get paid for the fake inspection that you conducted.

As more municipalities wise up to the fake firefighters, though, cautionary measures are easy to take. In Bakersfield, California, local authorities are looking to crack down on the fraudulent extinguisher technicians through a public seminar.

The city of Alhambra, in southern California, has provided business owners with a series of tips for avoiding fake fire inspectors:

1. Look for a uniform and a badge. Inspectors will almost always be wearing a fire department uniform, complete with a city patch on the left shoulder.

There will also be a badge above the left pocket, with the city’s name, the fire department, and the inspector’s badger number.

2. Check the vehicle in which the inspector arrived. No inspector will take a private vehicle to an inspection, so you should be able to find an official fire department vehicle somewhere nearby.

A real fire extinguisher inspector knows his way around an inspection record tag.

3. If they ask you for money, this will usually be a dead giveaway that the inspectors are frauds.

Oftentimes, the city will pay inspection fees, and if there is a bill required, it can just as easily be paid later.

4. Personnel may show up unannounced, but no fire department employees will ever repair any equipment, since that must be done by a licensed official.

If someone does show up to fix something, always be sure to ask who sent them.

This photoluminescent fire extinguisher sign indicates the location of the fire extinguishers in your workplace.

5. Call your local fire department if you’re wary that the person conducting your inspection might not be a real firefighter.

It’s always better to be safe than sorry, so knowing if the person inspecting your fire extinguisher is authorized to do so is worth the worry.

Be sure you know who you’re dealing with, and never give money to a suspicious inspector.

Fire leaves downtown Naperville restaurant with $200,000 Damage

Investigators look over the scene of a fire Sunday morning that caused extensive damage to a restaurant at 6 W. Jefferson Ave. in downtown Naperville. The fire left the business uninhabitable, authorities said.
Investigators look over the scene of a fire Sunday morning that caused extensive damage to a restaurant at 6 W. Jefferson Ave. in downtown Naperville. The fire left the business uninhabitable, authorities said.

Investigators are working to determine what sparked an early morning fire Sunday that left a downtown Naperville restaurant uninhabitable and caused an estimated $200,000 in damage to its building.

No one was injured in the fire, which was reported at 6:13 a.m. by a passer-by that noticed a large amount of smoke coming from the two-story structure at 6 W. Jefferson Ave., according to the Naperville Fire Department. The building is home to Rizzo’s restaurant and bar.

Deputy Fire Chief Rick Sander, speaking at the scene on Sunday, said the fire does not to appear to be suspicious, but stressed that the investigation into the cause continues.

Two trucks, three engines, a heavy rescue squad and two ambulances responded to the scene, along with two command vehicles, fire officials said. The first fire unit arrived on the scene within 5 minutes and found heavy black smoke coming from the top of the restaurant, officials said.

Crews began an aggressive fire attack and initiated a search of the building for occupants, the fire department reported. The fire was contained to the building’s roof, exterior deck and second floor, and brought under control within 30 minutes. There was smoke damage throughout the building.

Rizzo’s will be closed while repairs are made, Sander said. He couldn’t provide an estimate for how long the repairs will take. Rizzo’s sits on Jefferson between Noodles and Company and Perle Jewelers. Sander said Noodles and Company sustained a small amount of water damage as a result of the fire, but that other nearby buildings were not affected.

Shauna Rhodes, a Naperville resident, stood and watched as investigators worked at the scene on Sunday morning.

“You hate to see this,” she said. “This is such a nice downtown. I hope Rizzo’s opens back up soon.”

The Naperville Fire Department was assisted at the scene by the Naperville Police Department, Naperville’s Emergency Management Agency, the DuPage County Fire Investigation Task Force and several other agencies. The Bolingbrook, Downers Grove, Lisle-Woodridge, Lockport, Plainfield, Warrenville and Wheaton fire departments provided coverage at Naperville’s fire stations, authorities said.