McKees Rocks Fire Department - Notes From The Chief

The following notes are from the McKees Rocks V.F.D. Fire Chief, Nicholas Raydoycis Jr.
01/22/2015On Wednesday January 14, 2015, a fire occurred at 424 Russellwood Avenue. The alarm was sounded in Mckees Rocks, Station 189, at 12:37P.M. and Engine 189 responded at 12:44P.M., 7 minutes after the alarm. We called on scene at 12:47 P.M. three minutes later. These times are automatically recorded by Allegheny County 911 and are a matter of record. Presston, Station 277 simultaneously responded at 12:46 P.M. and arrived on scene at 12:55 P.M. Our R.I.T. companies were called in after the initial alarm was sounded and arrived at 12:57 P.M. Kennedy Twp., Station 181, was called in at 1:09 P.M. for additional support.

 The house at 422 Russellwood Ave., just two feet away, was in danger of catching fire. The initial attack was defensive, that is, the initial hoses were trained between the houses to stop the spread of fire. The intense fire was contained to 424 Russellwood which was destroyed. The exposure house at 422 was saved although it was scorched outside by the heat and incurred water and smoke damage. The owner indicated that it will be repaired.

Investigation by the Allegheny County Fire Marshall found that a misplaced space heater caused the couch in the living room to catch fire. The fire was ruled accidental in nature.          

We were later shocked and dismayed by widely broadcast interviews severely criticizing us for our efforts. Two individuals, neither with connection to either Stowe or McKees Rocks Fire Departments accused both fire companies of being involved in a feud which resulted in delay in responding to this call. Nothing could be further from the truth. There is absolutely no basis for this rumor.          

Both McKees Rocks and Stowe Fire Departments have worked closely together for over 32 years. Until the advent of the 911 system, Stowe was the second alarm to all large emergencies in McKees Rocks. Since the 911 system and the beginning of the Rapid Intervention Team (R.I.T.) concept Stowe is our third alarm for fire suppression. In fact, since the beginning of the year McKees Rocks has had three multiple alarm fires. Two intentionally set and this accidental fire. Stowe was called in all three times for support and relief. This is hardly indicative of a feud or disharmony between departments. We did not hesitate to call them in and they did not hesitate to respond. On several occasions over the years we also responded into Stowe to lend our support to them. There never has been a response problem.

A second criticism was alleged that it took 25 or 30 minutes for McKees Rocks to respond to this call. Any shocking and surprising event distorts perceptions of time. Minutes seem like hours. The recorded times listed above by the County accurately record the times it took the fire departments to respond. Nothing more need be said on this point.

Sadly, and most importantly, the efforts of many brave men and women of Stowe and McKees Rocks were disparaged, blackened and ignored by the unfounded and irresponsible criticism and rumor.

Nicholas Radoycis, Jr.
Fire Chief        
McKees Rocks, V.F.D.