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Arnold Fire and Emergency Services assists with Kirchhoff Automotive plant fire

An outdoor storage area burns at the Kirchhoff Automotive Plant in Manchester June 6. Arnold Air Force Base Fire & Emergency Services supplied mutual aid during the fire. (Courtesy photo)

An outdoor storage area burns at the Kirchhoff Automotive Plant in Manchester June 6. Arnold Air Force Base Fire & Emergency Services supplied mutual aid during the fire. (Courtesy photo)

Multiple local fire departments extinguish a fire at the Kirchhoff Automotive Plant in Manchester June 6. Arnold Air Force Base Fire & Emergency Services supplied mutual aid during the fire. (Courtesy photo)

Multiple local fire departments extinguish a fire at the Kirchhoff Automotive Plant in Manchester June 6. Arnold Air Force Base Fire & Emergency Services supplied mutual aid during the fire. (Courtesy photo)

MANCHESTER, Tenn. -- During a recent fire at the Kirchhoff Automotive plant in Manchester, Arnold Air Force Base Fire & Emergency Services provided support alongside local fire departments.

The Base FES received an emergency call at 5:59 p.m., June 6, for assistance with a fire at an outdoor storage container section of the plant. Arnold FES responded with an assistant fire chief and three crews as mutual aid and “coordinated joint operations in support of a defensive fire attack,” according to Tom Lombard, Arnold FES assistant fire chief.

Kirchhoff Automotive mostly produces dash panels for multiple model vehicles. Lombard arrived on scene to assess the situation and coordinate firefighting actions with the Manchester Fire Department command officer and the plant general manager.

“The commodity involved in the fire contained heavy plastics and oils, with the bulk of fire in close proximity to the facility, adjacent oil drums and a gas-cylinder bulk storage area,” Lombard reported.

During this initial assessment, Lombard determined that an Arnold airport firefighting vehicle, with a crew trained in foam applications, should be brought in to suppress the fire and protect the structure and first responders.

“Crew 9505 arrived and was immediately put to work blanketing the bulk of the fire,” Lombard said. “In less than five minutes, 75 percent of the fire was knocked down, pushing the fire off the structure. Once the fire was pushed off the structure, Manchester firefighters used the foam pre-connects on 9505 [vehicle] to advance their attack on the remaining fire.”

The fire was extinguished by 7:30 p.m.

Arnold FES Chief Daryle Lopes said the mutual aid practiced by Arnold’s fire department augments local fire departments.

“The AFI (Air Force Instruction) 32-2001 Fire Emergency Services Program encourages the Installation Fire Chief to seek out mutual aid agreements with local departments surrounding our installation,” Lopes said. “We offer our assistance to neighboring communities when their forces require additional or unique resources at many types of incidents and they do the same for us.

“One of the typical advantages is the ability to request capabilities one's department may not possess. This was the case in the Kirchhoff fire because we provided the capability to apply high volume Aqueous Film Forming Foam needed to extinguish burning plastics which the other departments did not have. In turn, during that same incident, Decherd Fire Department supplied a fully-staffed engine crew at our fire station to increase manning and prevent AEDC dropping below critical level of service. Mutual aid assistance is critical to the success of our mission and we are very thankful to all our mutual aid partners for their willingness to train and work together.”

During an interview with a local newspaper, Manchester Fire Chief George Chambers said, “A total of six local fire departments provided assistance during this major fire, along with the outstanding assistance provided by the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Coffee County Sheriff’s Department, Manchester Police Department, Coffee County Emergency Medical Services, Coffee County Emergency Management Agency and Coffee County 911 Center and local citizens and government agencies that assisted firefighters on scene and after the incident. Without the assistance of all responders to this event, the outcome would have been different.”