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‘Relax, it’s just a dumpster.’


Video below is of what eventually becomes a four-alarm fire in Burbank, California.

According to the Los Angeles Daily News, the fire was reported at 1017 hours on 27 May 2013. The first engine company to arrive found an outside fire and a “heavy” smoke condition inside the attic space of an exposed carpet warehouse. Fire conditions inside caused a roof collapse at a later point.

Daily News Photos: Burbank Four-Alarm Fire

Story from above video by VerdugoScanner, "Around 10 o'clock Monday morning Burbank FD was dispatched to a reported structure fire in the 100 blk of S Glenoaks Blvd. T11 was first on scene and reported heavy smoke showing from the rear of the structure, and the long firefight began. The fire had started in the rear of the structure and extended into the building with heavy fire prompting a 2nd alarm response. The fire ripped quickly through the 1 story commercial prompting a 3rd alarm and eventually a 4th alarm with units assisting from cities all over the Verdugo system including Glendale, Pasadena, South Pasadena, Monterey Park, and Alhambra. It took a couple hours to knock down the fire which completely destroyed the building. Two firefighters were transported with minor injuries and were later released."

Consider for Discussion:

How is a dumpster or other outside fire reacted to by you and your crew you?

Does the dispatcher in your area seek additional information on these calls?

What is the typical assignment in your area? Would it change if it were reported as a "dumpster on fire up against a building"?

What you be your typical upgrade on the assignment?

How long in your area until the additional companies arrive?

How will the wait for additional companies affect your strategy and tactics?



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Bill, we can go down a long list of deadly fires which started in dumpsters, or trash piles and extended via soffit or exposure to become structure fires, Southwest supermarket, Precious Faith, Super Sofa store and on and on. These exterior fires generally find that exposed structures concealed void space and attack or cockloft extending viscously. Great post. Thanks for the calibration exercise.

Thanks. As we have seen in past reports complacency and communication are common issues that always require attention year after year.


Structurally we need to make changes, could intumescent paint on the soffit protect the attic? Residential vented soffit with intumescent paint could potentially "close up" when the paint met the heat of outside or neighbouring exposure fires.

Active fire inspectors educating building owners on the what ifs of having the dumpsters too close to the buildings.

The shift to actively educate our front line firefighters to point out their neighbourhood fire hazards for follow up by inspectors before the tones go off.

We need to collectively help each other to keep the fires contained through a stronger emphasis on prevention.

Education is the key; Everyone goes home to their families safely or with a reduced risk.

Stay safe out there, watch out for each other.


Duncan Rydall

No one should set a fire in a dumpster, even so, there are people who don't respect this interdiction. Dumpsters should be used properly and when it is full they should be transported to a landfill. There are diligent business people who are interested in the best rear load dumpsters for sale to do their daily activity respecting the city rules. These business people are also obliged to send them to a landfill when they are full.

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