Just before 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 18, the Sterling Heights Fire Department responded to the report of a car on fire inside the service area of Buff Whelan Chevrolet at 40445 Van Dyke.
Sterling Heights Fire Department crews responding from Fire Station 1 arrived to find several cars fully engulfed in flames deep inside the building. Fire Chief Chris Martin reports that, as the crews mounted an attack, the fire quickly spread and was consuming the entire northwest portion of the building.
Crews continued to work diligently to contain the fire and prevent further spread. A Third Alarm was called at 8:14, followed by a Fourth Alarm at 8:55 p.m. The fire was called “under control” at 9:52 p.m. Crews remained on the scene until 3:45 a.m. on July 19.
Within Macomb’s Division 3204, each alarm level is designed to bring 12 to 15 firefighters with at least 2 Engines and 1 Ladder Truck, Chief Martin explained. Chief Officers from those communities are also encouraged to respond to assist with the management of the scene. All scenes are run under the framework of the nationally recognized Incident Command System. Communication plans are worked in advance and it is a requirement of the Division to train all firefighters on these policies each year.
This specific incident brought over 80 firefighters from the following communities to the scene: Clinton Township, Shelby Township, Warren, Macomb Township, Fraser, Utica, Detroit Arsenal, Roseville and Washington Township.
“This was a perfect example of the efficiency and effectiveness of the Mutual Aid Policies among Macomb County Fire Departments,” Chief Martin said. “These policies were put in place decades ago, under the Macomb County Fire Chiefs Association, and they are reviewed and scrutinized each year. The Macomb County Fire Chiefs Association is now known also as MABAS Division 3204. MABAS (Mutual Aid Box Alarm System) is a statewide mutual aid system, designed to have these types of mutual aid policies consistent throughout the state.”
The mutual aid policies also plan for fire apparatus and personnel from neighboring communities to come into our city and fill some fire stations to handle the other incidents that come in. Some of the departments previously mentioned above, served as “fill-in” companies before responding to the fire scene. At Fourth Alarm, Chesterfield Township, Mt Clemens and St Clair Shores responded to our city and staffed our stations. Chief Martin reported other departments handled some 15 incidents while Sterling Heights crews were tied up, including a rollover accident, with entrapment, handled by Chesterfield Township.
There was also assistance provided by the Sterling Heights Police Department and the Department of Public Works, as well as Universal Macomb Ambulance and the American Red Cross.
Mayor Michael C. Taylor said he is proud of SHFD’s professional response to the fire and is grateful for the aid provided by surrounding communities.
“The Sterling Heights Fire Department did an outstanding job containing this fire and ensuring all in the surrounding area were kept out of harm’s way while it was extinguished,” Taylor said. “Myself along with our entire City is grateful for their hard work. I’m also incredibly thankful for the aid provided by our surrounding fire departments. We are lucky to have a strong support system in Macomb County that assists in times of great need.”
Mayor Taylor also stated that he, the City Council and City Administration are committed to assisting Buff Whelan Chevrolet as needed during the recovery process.
“We know this is a tough time for Buff Whelan Chevrolet, and I want them to know we are supportive of their efforts as they rebuild after this fire,” Taylor said.
Martin reports investigation is still ongoing, but investigators are confident that the cause of the fire is consistent with the reports accounts they have received identifying that a floor scrubber came in contact with flammable liquids or vapors, causing a flash fire that spread quickly. It is still too early to make any estimate on amounts of damage, Martin said.
For more information, please contact Fire Chief Chris Martin at (586) 446-2951 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.