Rockland fire, mutual aid keep blaze small, contained inside manufacturing building

Sun, 01/03/2021 - 7:45pm

    ROCKLAND — Rockland fire personnel and their mutual aid responded to a small fire confined within a manufacturing building on the former FMC/Dupont campus, Sunday, Jan. 3. The campus is currently occupied by International Flavors and Fragrances (IFF).

    Just before 4:45 p.m., employees at the manufacturing facility reported a small fire caused by an overheated product on the first floor of a processing area that they were unable to extinguish themselves due to fume conditions of the burning product.

    Some members of Rockland’s duty crew were tending to a medical call in Owls Head at the time of the Lime Street call, with two personnel available to respond immediately to the fire, according to Rockland Fire Chief Chris Whytock, in a follow-up report.

    Due to that minimal first response, and the high hazard area that exists within the International Flavors and Fragrances (IFF) facility, immediate first and second alarms followed, summoning an estimated 30 responders from Camden, Rockport, Thomaston, South Thomaston, and off-duty Rockland personnel, as well as back-up assistance by North East Mobile Health. The first of the mutual aid arrived on scene very soon after. 

    The confines of the fire, however, kept most of the mutual aid staged on Lime Street and Tilson Avenue for the hour’s duration of the call. 

    The two initial firefighters wore self-contained breathing apparatus as they knocked down the majority of the flames, using approximately 500 gallons of water, and making use of the fire hydrants already established on the campus. Their efforts blocked all extension of damage past the point of origin, according to Whytock. 

    Upwards of a dozen firefighters at a time helped with the overhaul of the interior damage while others waited outside for their turn to assist.

    At one point, a Rockport firetruck was called away for a call in Rockport. And then, as trucks on Lime Street reloaded their gear, Rockland duty firefighters were called to a fire alarm investigation in another neighborhood. 

    Whytock contributed the success of keeping the fire small and confined to its location of origin to early notification of the fire helping to minimize the damage within the building, as well as evacuate the employees safely.

    As well, “The assistance within our mutual aid system is always beneficial in having enough first responders on hand, which is key to a successful outcome,” he said.


    Reach Sarah Thompson at