A fire raged through a Fiat car dealership early Wednesday morning in Larchmont, shutting down a key portion of Boston Post Road and destroying the car dealership.
The blaze required the efforts of dozens of fire fighters from Larchmont and the neighboring New Rochelle and Mamaroneck Fire Departments.
Fiat of Larchmont – which markets itself as “the original Fiat and Abarth dealer” – began selling the Italian made cars in 1961 and has become a fixture in the local community.
New Rochelle’s Engine 21 and Ladder 12 responded to the request for mutual aid.
“When a fire of this magnitude strikes in our own or a neighboring community and can wipe out a business and the livelihoods of all its employees, it is critical that fire fighters rapidly contain it,” explained Byron Gray, president of the New Rochelle Uniformed Fire Fighters Association. “In this situation, fire fighters encountered vehicles on the dealership lot, all of which contained highly flammable materials including motor oil, fuel, plastics, rubber, cloth and various petroleum based synthetics, which can all make vehicle fires extremely hot, toxic and difficult to extinguish.”
Earlier this year, New Rochelle Fire Fighters were similarly challenged battling a toxic fuel and fiberglass fed yacht and boatyard fire in Pelham Manor which, if not contained, could have caused much greater damage.
Wednesday morning’s fire began a little before 4 a.m.
“Fires in the middle of the night often burn undetected for longer periods allowing them to quickly grow out of control,” continued Fire Fighter Gray. “That’s why adequate overnight fire fighter staffing is essential for both the safety of citizens and the economic health of our city and neighboring communities.”
Last month, New Rochelle’s Citizens Advisory Committee recommended the NRFD’s nighttime minimum staffing level be reduced from 27 to 24 firefighters since there are fewer fires from 9 p.m. to 9 a.m.
Fire Fighter Gray points out that night time is also when 70% of all national fire fatalities happen, because people can’t promptly detect fires and in too many cases never awaken and die from smoke inhalation.