Busy Sunday For Fire Department

OCEAN CITY — The Ocean City Fire Department had a busy day on Sunday with a fire at a downtown hotel in the afternoon and another at a residence later that evening.

Around 2:30 p.m. last Sunday, the Ocean City Fire Department (OCFD) responded to a fire alarm activation at the Stowaway Grand Hotel on 22nd Street. First-arriving firefighters located the hotel’s alarm panel and determined the source of the activation was on the fifth floor. Four OCFD firefighters operating in groups of two made their way to the fifth floor from inside the building and found a smoke and fire condition in an electrical closet.

OCFD spokesman Ryan Whittington said crews were able to put out that fire with dry chemical extinguishers and that firefighters wouldn’t use water in a fire of that type because it was electrical in nature. With that situation well in hand, Whittington said while on the fifth floor, firefighters were alerted to another potential fire on the sixth floor above.

The crews made their way to the sixth floor and found an active fire and smoke conditions. As firefighters were preparing to tackle that blaze, the hotel’s sprinkler system activated and put out the fire.

The entire situation was brought under control around 3:40 p.m. on Sunday, or a little over an hour after the first alarm activation. Whittington said the protocol for the fire department in that case was to send the high-rise package, which includes larger apparatus and equipment.

“Because the Stowaway Grand is considered a high-rise in terms of the number of floors, there are certain things we have to do,” he said. “We actually deployed our high-rise package, which includes the ladder trucks and larger apparatus equipped with a larger amount of hose and larger caliber hoses.”

Hundreds of hotel guests were evacuated during the incident, resulting in some quick thinking by the command staff.

“Battalion Chief David Peterson had command and he requested a city bus,” said Whittington. “There were hundreds of guests milling around and waiting to get back in, and having the bus there provided a place for them to sit down and relax in the air conditioning.”

Whittington said the fire department’s protocols and training prevented what could have been a much more serious situation.

“Everything worked like it should have,” he said. “To our guys’ credit, they really saved the building from much more damage.”

Hours later, the OCFD responded to another residential fire at a condominium on Trimper Avenue, according to Whittington.

“We arrived and found a heavy smoke condition on the first floor,” he said. “Crews made their way to the third floor and found a basket of blankets and other materials in a storage closet too close to a heat source and it combusted. We believe a light bulb might have started the fire, but it is still under investigation. In that incident, the condo’s sprinkler system activated and extinguished the fire.”

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.